World passenger traffic will return this year to its level before the pandemic of coronavirus at the end of 2023, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The forecast is based on a further acceleration of air transport, after 2022 which saw attendance reach 74% of the volume recorded in 2019, the last full year before the arrival of Covid-19.
Air passenger traffic had fallen by 60% in 2020 compared to the previous year. In 2021, it was still down 49% compared to 2019, according to the Montreal-based UN agency. According to a statement, ICAO expects that "demand will quickly return to pre-pandemic levels on most destinations during the first quarter" of 2023.
The agency estimates that by the end of the year, attendance will be about 3% above 2019 figures. It sees it rising to 4% above this base year in 2024. The organization foresees a return to operating profitability (profit before tax, depreciation and amortization) for the sector in the last quarter of 2023, "after three consecutive years of losses."
Many airlines have already returned to profit, mainly due to a renewed appetite for tourism and air travel. A resurgence that significant fare increases have not slowed down. As far as air freight is concerned, ICAO expects a lower increase than air passenger traffic, "due to the slowdown in global growth". In 2022, air freight traffic was equivalent to the volumes recorded in 2021.