Airport industry losses will drop 78% next year, IATA forecast

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Oct. 4 (UPI) — The global airport industry will cut losses from this year by 78% in 2022 as it starts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Air Transport Association forecast Monday.

IATA, a trade association of the world’s airlines, represents some 290 airlines — 82% of total air traffic, according to its website — estimates $11.6 billion in net losses in 2022.

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In 2021, IATA estimated $51.8 billion in net losses, up from an April forecast of $47.7 billion.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, IATA estimated net losses at $137.7 billion, up from an earlier $126.4 billion estimate.

In total, the 2020-2022 estimates show the industry could lose more than $200 billion before returning to profitability in 2023, according to IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh‘s report, which noted that the pandemic brought global aviation to a halt in April 2020.

“The magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis for airlines is enormous,” Walsh said in a statement. “To survive, airlines have dramatically cut costs and adapted their business to whatever opportunities were available.”

Walsh added that the reduced losses show that the industry is headed toward recovery.

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“We are well past the deepest point of the crisis,” Walsh said. “While serious issues remain, the path to recovery is coming into view.”

The recovery has largely been driven by domestic demand with fewer pandemic restrictions than international travel, and vaccinations have been key to government relaxation of border control measures, according to IATA.

Re-establishing the 11.3 million jobs in the aviation industry before the COVID-19 pandemic, and travel and tourism, should be priorities for governments, the IATA statement said.

The White House said last month it would start in early November to require foreign nationals traveling to the United States to be fully vaccinated, which will end broad bans on noncitizens entering the country from the European Union, Britain and other countries.