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Walsh predicts earlier than expected aviation recovery

written by Isabella Richards | May 10, 2022

Willie Walsh, director general , IATA.

The director of aviation’s international peak body has forecasted the industry will return to pre-pandemic levels a year earlier than expected.

Speaking at the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh on Monday, Willie Walsh, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) told Reuters that passenger traffic was increasing despite the Russia and Ukraine war, and the growing restrictions in China.

It comes almost two years after Walsh predicted the aviation industry would be hindered from reaching 2019 levels until 2024, if not later.

“We’re seeing very strong bookings. Certainly, all the airline CEOs that I’m talking to are seeing not just good demand for year-end travel, but they continue to see demand as they looked through the year,” Walsh said.

Walsh said that even the higher oil prices and labour shortages have not deterred travellers, despite the roughly 10 per cent rise in air fares.

The soaring fuel price has come in response to the invasion in Ukraine, as sanctions on Russia have cut off the world’s second largest oil producer, and the continuing post-pandemic recovery of the aviation industry.

Most airlines have slapped additional fees on air fares to mitigate the rise of fuel prices. According to IATA fuel data, the average year to date price is US$132.3 per barrel, reaching almost 150 per cent higher than last year’s costs.


Walsh said, however, that the industry should expect a strong summer in 2023.

“I don’t think we should be distracted from the fact that we are seeing a strong recovery and I think that recovery will gather momentum as we go through the rest of this year into 2023.”

Despite the positive uptick towards pre-pandemic norms, Walsh said Asia-Pacific regions will likely lag behind in recovery.

In late April, China’s leader Xi Jinping doubled down on the country’s zero-COVID policy, which has been previously led by Hong Kong, plunging the nation into strict lockdown measures to curb the spread.

In March, IATA already forecasted that Asia-Pacific may only reach 68 per cent of 2019 levels in the coming year. The association also predicted it may take until 2025 for the region to recover.




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