Latest: IATA says pre-COVID passenger demand won't return until 2024

The International Air Transport Association has, in today’s briefing, updated its estimate for a return to pre-COVID air travel demand levels. The organisation predicts that now, Global RPKs will only return to pre-COVID levels by 2024.

Wide-body aircraft such as the Boeing 787 (pictured) are set to increase in importance as larger jets such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 are withdrawn from service. Photo by Brandon Farris | AeroNewsX

In May, the IATA said it predicted a return to 2019 air travel demand levels by 2023. However, in May it warned that international air travel demand would not return to pre-COVID levels until 2023-2024.

The IATA says that the latest figure is based on a slower than originally expected recovery during the second half of 2020.

Since the coronavirus pandemic has forced people to stay at home and operate through video-conferencing, business travel demand levels might never return to pre-COVID levels as the likes of Zoom, Microsoft Teams among others continue to gain popularity. This is quite significant, as business travel makes up a large part of revenue for many airlines.

In today's briefing, the organisation also stressed that cargo demand would likely return faster than passenger demand, adding that cargo could replace business travellers as a source of revenue.

In a press release today, the International Air Transport Association noted a recovery in air cargo demand in June. Compared to the same period last year, the IATA found that demand was down just 17.6%. Capacity was, overall, down 34.1% compared to June 2019.

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