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Air Travel Forecast: When Will Airlines Recover from Covid-19?

The recovery continues to be very localized as some countries maintain heavy restrictions while others open up travel aggressively amid rising vaccinations.


Air Travel Forecast: When Will Airlines Recover from Covid-19?

Global commercial air traffic plummeted in the first quarter of 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. In May 2020, we began making regular forecasts of how soon aviation demand would recover based on four potential scenarios and the latest information. We’re now publishing those forecasts in this dashboard, which we’ll update regularly.

Here are the latest developments as of October 2021.

  • Since our previous forecast, the projected global revenue for 2021 in the baseline recovery scenario continues to drop, falling an additional $8 billion, to $235 billion from our prior prediction of $243 billion. That would represent just 35% of the industry’s total revenue in 2019 (see panel 1 above). The recovery continues to be extremely local, with some countries struggling with heavy Covid-19 travel restrictions while others open up aggressively after reaching targeted vaccination thresholds.
  • Recent changes in travel restrictions are expected to affect future models. The US announced plans to open up to European travelers starting in November, and Australia has announced plans to open up to international travel for the first time in 18 months. Recovery may be slow, however, because of rising Covid-19 cases. In the UK, restrictions have been streamlined, with eased testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travelers arriving from countries with lower rates of Covid-19 infections. China is expected to maintain strong restrictions on international travel into the second half of 2022.
  • Looking ahead to projected air traffic into July 2022, Japan has seen the largest projected increase of airline passenger volumes as a percentage of July 2019 numbers, with a jump up to 67% from 55% in our previous projection (see panel 4) thanks to a steep decrease in Covid-19 cases.

Projected market and financial information, analyses, and conclusions are based (unless sourced otherwise) on external information and Bain & Company’s judgment. They are intended as a guide only and should not be construed as definitive forecasts or guarantees of future performance or results. No responsibility or liability whatsoever is accepted by any person, including Bain & Company, Inc. or its affiliates and their respective officers, employees, or agents, for any errors or omissions.


Bain’s Monthly Global Air Traffic Recovery Scenarios

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