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IATA says air passenger numbers have almost recovered to pre-Covid-19 levels

IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac
IATA CEO Alexandre de Juniac Copyright Cyril Zingaro/AP
Copyright Cyril Zingaro/AP
By Euronews with agencies
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Airline industry body, IATA, has significantly upgraded its prediction for profitability in 2023 as passenger numbers almost recover to pre-Covid-19 levels.

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In what's billed as a spectacular recovery, air travel passenger numbers have almost returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to new figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In a report issued on Monday at the start of its 2023 annual general meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, it said that airlines expect to carry 4.35 billion passengers worldwide this year, not far from the record of 4.54 billion in 2019.

Airlines and tourism were particularly hard hit by Covid-19 restrictions on international travel put in place across the world from early 2020 onwards.

The representative body for the world’s airlines also announced a major upgrade in its forecast for profitability for this year.

It said it now believes that the industry’s net profits for 2023 will hit $9.8 billion, representing a profit margin of 1.2 per cent. Its previous forecast, issued in December, had been for a net profit of $4.7 billion.

The global turnover of airlines should reach $803 billion, within reach of the $838 billion in 2019, according to IATA.

Although the industry's operating margins will remain very low this year, at 1.2 per cent, these profits, the first since the start of the pandemic, will mark a spectacular improvement on the 42 billion dollars lost in 2021 and the abyss of 2020 (137.7 billion).

However, it warned that not all geographical regions will return to profit this year. While airlines in North America, Europe and the Middle East should be well into the black, airlines in the Asia-Pacific region (-$6.9 billion), Latin America (-$1.4 billion) and Africa (-$500 million) will remain in deficit.

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