In a swift recovery, air passenger demand in 2023 is likely to recover to pre-pandemic levels on most routes, the UN aviation agency (ICAO) said.
“Assuring the safe, secure, and sustainable recovery of air services will be key to restoring aviation’s ability to act as a catalyst for sustainable development at the local, national, and global levels, and will consequently be vital to countries’ recovery from the broader impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Salvatore Sciacchitano, President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council.
ICAO forecasts that the surge in demand will be seen by the end of the first quarter. By year’s end, the agency predicts growth of about three per cent on 2019 figures.
STRONG RECOVERY MOMENTUM
“The air passenger forecasts ICAO is announcing today, build on the strong momentum toward recovery in 2022, as previously assessed by ICAO statistical analysis,” ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar said.
“Through ICAO, governments have reached agreements on goals toward zero accident fatalities by 2030 and zero carbon emissions by 2050 goals, and these will continue to play key roles in both guiding continued progress and in prioritizing ICAO’s implementation support initiatives.”
The swift recovery of most international routes lies behind the optimistic predictions, ICAO reported. The number of air passengers carried in 2022 rose by an estimated 47 per cent compared to the previous year. ICAO also observed an estimated 50 per cent jump in growth of airlines’ annual passenger revenues from 2021 to 2022.
In line with earlier ICAO predictions, the strong recovery in air passenger demand has resulted in 2022 passenger numbers reaching an estimated 74% of pre-pandemic levels, while passenger revenues are estimated to have reached around 68% of 2019 levels. The number of passenger aircraft in service in 2022 mirrors the overall traffic recovery, with current estimates suggesting 75% of pre-pandemic levels.
In 2022, aircraft orders and deliveries by major manufacturers Airbus and Boeing grew by 53% for orders and 20% for deliveries, compared to the previous year. The number of orders in 2022 exceeded that seen since 2019, indicating the recovery of aircraft demand.
Current estimates for air cargo in 2022 reflect 2021 levels, while still showing marginal growth compared to the pre-pandemic level. The pace of growth for air cargo is however expected to be lower in 2023, given the slowing global economic growth, although long-term air cargo growth remains in line with previously estimated trend indicating strong long term growth.