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

The Covid-19 Delta variant’s spread continues to dampen the global outlook, particularly for long-haul flights.

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Air Travel Forecast: When Will Airlines Recover from Covid-19?
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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 will 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 September 2021.

  • Projected global 2021 air traffic continues to drop, as the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant has weakened consumer travel sentiment and significantly dampened the outlook for long-haul flights over the next six to nine months. Since our previous forecast, projected global revenue for this year in the “baseline” scenario fell about $12 billion to $243 billion, 36% of the industry’s total revenue in 2019 (see panel 1 above). The current baseline scenario’s projected air travel volume for this year and next (see panel 2) has now fallen below our January projection for the “drifting” scenario.
  • Projected traffic between Europe and North America has decreased as a result of continued flight restrictions by the US and the removal of the US from the European Union’s safe travel list (see panel 3). Meanwhile, China is expected to remain mostly closed for international travel through much of the first half of 2022.
  • Looking ahead to July 2022, Japan and Australia had the largest declines in projected airline passenger volume compared with our previous projection (see panel 4).

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.

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