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With 4.7 billion passengers expected in 2024, the airline sector should break its historic record

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Airlines expect to transport 4.7 billion passengers worldwide next year, a “historic record” surpassing the 4.54 billion in 2019, before the health crisis, their main organization announced on Wednesday. As of this year, carriers will have erased the effects of Covid-19 from their accounts, returning to the green with cumulative net profits of $23.3 billion, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata), which thus more than doubled its previous projections of 9.8 billion, published last June.

The consequences of Covid have disappeared

The organization forecast 4.29 billion air trips this year, a slight downward revision from the 4.35 forecast in June. For 2024, profits should “largely stabilize” at $25.7 billion, according to Iata, on an unprecedented global turnover of $964 billion, compared to $896 estimated for 2023 and $838 billion for 2019. .

An economic sector among the most affected by the health crisis, due to border closures and other travel restrictions, airlines have suffered cumulative losses of some $183 billion between 2020 and 2022. “Given the massive losses of in recent years”, the profits expected in 2024 “illustrate the resilience of the aviation sector”, underlined the director general of Iata, Willie Walsh, welcoming the “extraordinary pace of recovery”.

Nonetheless, “it appears that the pandemic has cost the sector four years of growth,” Walsh noted during a “press day” at his organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. “From 2024 onwards, forecasts show that we can expect more normal growth trajectories for both passengers and freight,” according to the CEO.

The strong recovery in 2023 has resulted in high ticket prices as travel demand outstrips airline capacity constrained by delayed aircraft deliveries and other operational difficulties. Without looking back, this trend seems likely to slow down in 2024, according to Iata. At the same time, aircraft occupancy rates have already returned to their pre-crisis level.

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