IATA Forecasts Strong Rebound But Not Full Recovery

(27 May 2021)
IATA and Tourism Economics have published a long-term
view for post-COVID19 passenger demand recovery which demonstrates
that people remain eager to travel in the short and long-term.
Forecast highlights include:

– In 2021 global passenger numbers are expected to
recover to 52% of pre-COVID19 levels (2019);

– In 2022 global passenger numbers are expected to
recover to 88% of pre-COVID19 levels;

– In 2023 global passenger numbers are expected to
surpass pre-COVID19 levels (105%);

– By 2030 global passenger numbers are expected to
have grown to 5.6 billion. That would be 7% below the pre-COVID19
forecast and an estimated loss of 2-3 years’ growth due to
COVID19; and

– Beyond 2030 air travel is expected to slow, due
to weaker demographics and a baseline assumption of limited market
liberalisation, giving average annual growth between 2019 and 2039
of 3.2%. IATA’s pre-COVID19 growth forecast for this period was
3.8%.


The recovery in passenger numbers is slightly
stronger than the recovery in demand measured in revenue passenger
kilometres (RPKs), which is expected to grow by an annual average
of 3% between 2019 and 2039. This is owing to the expected
strength of domestic markets like China with large passenger
numbers and shorter distances.

“I am always optimistic about aviation,” said
Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. “We are in the deepest and
gravest crisis in our history. But the rapidly growing vaccinated
population and advancements in testing will return the freedom to
fly in the months ahead. And when that happens, people are going
to want to travel. The immediate challenge is to reopen borders,
eliminate quarantine measures and digitally manage
vaccination/testing certificates. At the same time, we must assure
the world that aviation’s long-term growth prospects are supported
with an unwavering commitment to sustainability. Both challenges
require governments and industry to work in partnership. Aviation
is ready. But I don’t see governments moving fast enough.”

Short Term: Restart

The damage of the COVID19 crisis will be felt for
years to come, but all indications are that people have retained
their need and desire to travel:

– Any possibility for borders to re-open is met
with an instant surge in bookings. The most recent example is the
100-percentage point spike in bookings from the UK to Portugal
when the UK’s “Green List” was announced in early May;

– The economy is strong and can fuel growth in
travel. February 2021 industrial production levels stood at 2%
above February 2019 levels;

Consumers have accumulated savings in the
lockdowns, in some cases exceeding 10% of GDP; and

– Vaccination rates in developed countries (with
the notable exception of Japan) should exceed 50% of the
population by the third quarter of 2021.

“This should be a clarion call to governments to
get ready,” said Walsh. “The travel and tourism sector is a major
contributor to GDP. People’s livelihoods are at stake. To avoid
greater long-term economic and social damage, restart must not be
delayed. Governments can facilitate a safe restart with policies
that enable restriction-free travel for vaccinated people, and
testing alternatives for those unable to be vaccinated.
Governments must also be ready with processes to digitally manage
the vaccine or test certificates—ensuring that a safe restart is
also efficient.”

Sustainability

“Aviation will grow because people want and need
to travel. But we must be able to fulfill that consumer demand
sustainably. Those are the ground rules for any business. It is no
secret that this is more challenging for aviation than sectors
with broader energy alternatives. But with the support of
governments we will get there through a combination of means,”
said Walsh.

Aviation is committed to cutting its net carbon
emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050. It already has a good
track record of decoupling emissions and demand growth per
passenger journey in half since 1990 through efficiency gains, but
governments need to step up as well.

In addition to efficiency and technology gains,
CORSIA (the first global carbon offsetting scheme for an
industrial sector) is stabilizing emissions from international
flights at 2019 levels. A low-carbon energy transition for
aviation has commenced with sustainable aviation fuels that are
powering flight today, to be followed by electric and hydrogen
powered aircraft. And there is much more that can be done with
infrastructure—airports and air traffic management—to operate with
maximum efficiency and minimum emissions.

“If we work in partnership with governments there
is great potential in all these areas. But easy sustainability
wins are being left on the table. In Europe, which has led on many
sustainability initiatives, why are we still waiting for the
Single European Sky? This could immediately reduce emissions by up
to 10%. There is no excuse as the technology has been here for two
decades or more. The partnership with governments on
sustainability must exist in deeds as well as words,” said Walsh.

The 12-page power point presentation of the report
can be downloaded

here
.

See also:


What is the IATA Travel Pass, and what does it mean for
travellers, airlines and the global travel industry? Exclusive
video interview with Vinoop Goel
.

See latest

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