Global Airline Capacity Is Seen Rising in 2022, Along With Fares
(Bloomberg) -- A rebound in global airline capacity should accelerate in the second half of next year, but trans-Atlantic traffic likely won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, according to an aviation consulting firm.
Additionally, airfares are poised to rise significantly next year, owing to higher costs from labor and addressing environmental issues, “plus the need for airlines to rebuild their balance sheets,” said Richard Evans, a senior consultant at Cirium. The U.K. firm released its 2022 aviation forecast on Wednesday.
Airlines borrowed heavily in 2020 to withstand the downturn from the Covid-19 pandemic, with traffic declining more than 80% in most markets.
Globally, Cirium predicts that airline capacity as measured by seat miles per kilometer will rise 47% next year, putting the industry back at its 2015 levels for the year. For North America, the company forecasts a 37% increase in 2022, due to the large U.S. domestic recovery already under way this year.
Global airline capacity is ending this year 31% below 2019, Cirium said, though domestic markets in China and the U.S. have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
One large unknown factor for next year is the impact of coronavirus variants and whether governments will re-impose broad border closures, which would reduce global airline capacity and passenger flows. Cirium said the industry is better positioned than in 2020 because of the widespread availability of vaccines and boosters.
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Passenger traffic worldwide by the end of next year should be only 15% below the end of 2019, Cirium said. That compares with a 49% decline in October, the last month for which data are available.
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