The global airline industry is expected to lose close to $12 billion next year, cutting its losses from this year by 78% as carriers slowly recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Air Transport Association said in a forecast Monday.
IATA, which represents nearly 300 airlines that operate more than 80% of the world’s air traffic, said industry losses in 2021 will be worse than originally thought, totaling $51.8 billion, up from a forecast in April of $47.7 billion.
Net losses in 2020 were $137.7 billion, more than the $126.4 billion IATA estimated earlier this year and bringing the industry’s total net losses from the pandemic to more than $200 billion.
“We are past the deepest point of the crisis,” IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh said during the group’s annual meeting, which was held in Boston. It was the group’s first in-person annual meeting since June 2019. “While serious issues remain, the path to recovery is coming into view.
IATA forecast the industry would return to profitability in 2023 and said the total passenger numbers would rise to 3.4 billion people next year from 2.3 billion this year.
Walsh said the lifting of international travel restrictions tied to the pandemic would fuel bookings but slammed countries’ lack of uniform guidelines on safety protocols such as Covid testing windows, age exemptions and methods to validate vaccinations.
The Biden administration last month said in November it would lift bans on international visitors that were put in place early in the pandemic, but it officials haven’t yet disclosed a date