Airports Council International (ACI) World published its latest quarterly airport traffic outlook showing an upsurge in air travel demand across many markets but noted global passenger traffic still finished 2022 at 6.5 billion passengers, 72 percent of 2019 levels.
The ACI-World “12th Advisory Bulletin on the impact of COVID-19 on the airport business—and the path to recovery” also found that the aviation recovery has varied dramatically by markets, but that total international passenger numbers last year were at 60% of 2019 numbers, while domestic travel stood at 79%.
The report projected that global passenger traffic should reach 92% of 2019 levels, or 8.4 billion passengers, in 2023. The baseline projections for global passenger traffic indicate that the industry will recover to 2019 levels by 2024, driven mainly by domestic travel. International traffic is expected to recover in 2024.
“The surge in air travel following the lifting of restrictions in 2022 continues into 2023,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira. “We know from our Global Traveler Survey covering 4,125 respondents across 30 countries, that 86 percent of respondents plan to travel by air in 2023—this is the highest intention to travel score since the beginning of the pandemic.”
He added that the speed of the recovery could be negatively impacted by a slowing in GDP growth in major economies coupled with the rise in airfares due to higher jet fuel prices. “On the other hand, a strong labor market and the re-opening of China, the second largest aviation market after the United States, represents an important boost to global passenger traffic,” he said.
The recovery in passenger volumes in 2022 remained uneven across the globe with Latin American-Caribbean markets reaching 91% of 2019 levels whereas the Asia-Pacific region lagged at percent.
North American markets are expected to come to 2019 traffic numbers by the end of 2023, the report said.