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

The outlook has worsened due to tightening restrictions in some countries, an uneven vaccination pace, and a lack of standardized health travel documentation.


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 monthly 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 will update regularly.

Here are the latest developments reflected in the dashboard, as of March 2021.

  • Projected global 2021 air traffic continues to drop, as a result of tightening restrictions in some countries, an uneven pace of vaccination, and slow development of standardized health travel documentation. Since our previous forecast, projected revenue for this year in the “baseline” scenario fell $21 billion to $316 billion, 47% of the industry’s total revenue in 2019 (see panel 1 above). That follows a $23 billion decrease in 2021 “baseline” revenue in the previous projection.
  • The outlook through the middle of next year has worsened across all four global demand recovery scenarios (see panel 2), due to an intensifying rate of international border closures, continued national lockdowns, and vaccination rate forecasts. However, the encouraging results of vaccination have created more certainty where, a month ago, there was considerably less data available. As a result, after the fourth quarter of 2022, the demand recovery scenarios have now marginally improved compared with the previous projection.
  • Looking ahead to July 2022, the projected airline passenger volume remained essentially flat compared with our previous projection in most countries (see panel 3). Mexico saw the largest gain since the previous projection, while Australia had the biggest decline.

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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