2024 is set to be a “milestone year” for global travel, according to an air industry report predicting a return to pre-Covid passenger volumes.
Return to Business As Usual
The Airports Council International’s (ACI) latest advisory bulletin predicts global passenger volume will reach 9.4 billion passengers in 2024, surpassing pre-Covid figures (9.2 billion) from 2019 and overtaking this year’s global passenger numbers which are expected to hit 94.2% of the 2019 total.
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The report relies on data gathered from an extensive network of over 2,600 airports spanning more than 180 countries and territories worldwide. It is curated and analysed by leading industry economists.
Losses still apparent
Trendlines show that the “percentage of lost traffic continues to decrease on a quarterly basis” and so the return to pre-Covid volumes is anticipated to be worldwide, with all regions slated to hit or go beyond the so-called “Business As Usual” or BAU figures taken from 2019.
However, it should be noted that, compared to pre-Covid predictions (of 10.9 billion passengers in 2024), the revised 2024 forecast still represents a hypothetical loss of 13.9%.
Latin America and Caribbean lead the pack
ACI projects that Latin America and the Caribbean will be the first to hit the recovery milestone.
Asia-Pacific will be slower, with the boost from the re-opening of the Chinese market mitigated by “challenges in overseas tourism and looming economic concerns.” Still, by the end of 2024, the region is expected to be just half a percent off BAU.
Africa is expected to see steady growth, with Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia contributing to its success, while Europe’s travel sector, which began the post-Covid period with a strong uptick, looks like it will experience a slight downturn.
“Employment, social benefits, and economic development”
ACI World Director General, Luis Felipe de Oliveira celebrated the outlook report’s findings, pointing out the economic role aviation plays: “Aviation is a key driver of growth, jobs, and prosperity,” he said, adding that the sector provides “employment, social benefits, and economic development to communities worldwide.”
De Oliveira recognised “downside” pressures within the sector but noted they were being met by “dedicated efforts” by ACI airport members and partners. He also noted “Upside factors include the reopening of the Chinese market and surge in domestic travel, supply chain disruptions gradually subsiding, and inflation slowing down.”
He called aviation “a steadfast force in global economic recovery, bridging connections among people, cultures, and economies.”