Travel recovery hints at profitability in 2023

IATA has announced an update to its 2022 aviation industry financial outlook due to the accelerated recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

Highlights of the forecast include:

  • Industry losses are expected to narrow to -$9.7B (improved from October 2021 loss forecast of $11.6B) on a net loss of -1.2%. This is a huge improvement from losses of $137.7 billion (-36.0% net margin) in 2020 and $42.1 billion (-8.3% net margin) in 2021.
  • Industry-wide profitability in 2023 seems within reach, with North America already expected to generate $8.8 billion in profits in 2022.
  • Efficiency improvements and higher profitability are helping airlines cut losses even as labor and fuel costs rise (the latter driven by a 40% increase in global oil prices and a widening crack this year).
  • The industry’s optimism and commitment to reducing emissions is evident in the expected net delivery of over 1,200 aircraft in 2022.
  • Strong pent-up demand, the lifting of travel restrictions in most markets, low unemployment rates in most countries and increased personal savings are driving a recovery in demand that will see passenger numbers rise to 83% of pre-pandemic levels in 2022.
  • Despite economic challenges, cargo volumes are expected to hit a record 68.4 million tonnes in 2022.

“Airlines are resilient. People are flying in increasing numbers. And freight is performing well amid growing economic uncertainty. Losses will narrow to $9.7 billion this year, with profitability expected in 2023. This is a time for optimism, even if there are still cost issues, especially for fuel, and some ongoing restrictions in several key markets,” said Willy. Walsh, Director General of IATA.

Outlook Drivers

Revenues are rising as COVID-19 restrictions ease and people return to travel. The challenge for 2022 is to keep costs under control.

“Loss reduction is the result of hard work to contain costs as the industry grows. The improved financial outlook is driven by a 44% increase in storage costs and a 55% increase in revenue. As the industry returns to more normal production levels and high fuel costs are likely to remain for a while, profitability will depend on continued cost control. And that includes the value chain. Our suppliers, including airports and air navigation service providers, must be as focused on cost control as their customers are to support the recovery of the industry,” Walsh said.


Industry revenue is expected to reach $782 billion (+54.5% by 2021), which is 93.3% of the 2019 level. It is expected that 33.8 million flights will be operated in 2022, which is 86.9% of the 2019 level (38.9 million flights).

Passenger income The industry is expected to generate $498 billion in revenue, more than double the $239 billion generated in 2021. The number of regular passengers is expected to reach 3.8 billion. Yields are expected to rise by 5.6%. This follows a -9.1% yield change in…

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