An overview of the industry’s global recovery
Before the pandemic, the Travel and Tourism industry accounted for 10 per cent of global GDP and more than 320 million jobs worldwide. Aviation formed the backbone of this, facilitating global mobility and catalysing economic growth. In the wake of the pandemic, the industry has demonstrated resilience and is making a strong recovery. However, there are still some concerns. This article collates recently published data to build an overarching view of the landscape as it stands.
Published at the end of the month, IATA’s latest quarterly air connectivity analysis shows “in Q2 of 2023 the majority of countries across the globe have reached or exceeded their pre-pandemic levels of connectivity.” The graphic below highlights the strength of the recovery against 2019 data. IATA noted Africa has shown a particularly strong performance, while Europe’s recovery has been mixed, partly as a result of disruption from the closure of Russian airspace.
International air traffic
Investec’s snapshot of Q2 gave a broad overview of international air travel, reporting that the industry has continued on its steady trajectory with traffic now at 84 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels. The findings noted that traffic within Asia is “showing positive momentum, reaching 56 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.”
In a recent interview with Simple Flying, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) Director General Subhas Menon discussed the APAC recovery, explained that:
“In terms of international traffic China typically represents 20% of Asia-Pacific but right now they are trending around 5% and as a large inbound and outbound market I think it is dragging the chain.
China is typically very strong to Southeast Asia but while the Southeast Asian airlines have put on their flights to China the Chinese carriers have not done so, or at least not to the same extent as they were operating in 2019.”
Focusing on Europe in June, EUROCONTROL described a “positive start to aviation summer.” Examining the June 2023 numbers, traffic is up seven per cent from 2022 and air traffic flow management (ATFM) delays per flight are down 8 per cent to 3.7 minutes per flight. Acknowledging the complications caused by the reduction in available airspace, the report showed that despite this there were “clear positive trends” demonstrating “close cooperation between all operational partners.”
Providing an overarching assessment of the landscape, Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE, said:
“Passenger traffic has rebounded over the past 6 months, getting ever closer to a full recovery. However, 2023 is not 2019. There are significant variations in performance across national markets, and volumes still remain below their pre-pandemic levels for more than half (52%) of Europe’s airports.
So far, demand has remained extremely resilient in the face of lasting inflationary pressures and record increases in airfares since the beginning of the year. But, looking ahead and past the peak Summer months, we do see significant downside risks and much uncertainty. These include the prospect of deteriorating macroeconomics for the Eurozone and the UK as well as initial signals that discretionary spending might start decreasing and that pandemic‑savings buffers are exhausted.”
Despite its promising recovery as the industry navigates the new landscape carved out by the pandemic, the road ahead remains challenging. At World Aviation Festival in September, industry leaders will be discussing the post-pandemic journey, looking at plans for the future and pushing towards continued growth.
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