Despite many airlines having returned to profitability, the extent of the financial setback the entire aviation industry suffered over 2020, 2021 and 2022 due to the effects of the pandemic has been revealed, and it’s immense.
According to a report entitled ‘Cirium’s World Airline Group Finance Rankings’ airline losses from the period to date totalled almost US$220 billion. Cirium is an aviation data company.
The report showed that airline revenues were reduced by 50% in 2020 and by 40% in 2021. 2022 revenues were up by 70% but many airlines are still well below pre-pandemic levels.
US airlines have enjoyed fast recovery of their domestic market and recorded a 5% increase in revenue over pre-pandemic levels for the period and returned to a modest operating profit. Delta was noted as the leader at the top of the revenue rankings this year, with its revenue virtually back to pre-pandemic levels.
“The major European airline groups such as Lufthansa, also showed strong recovery in first-half revenues following the lifting of travel restrictions in early 2022, which unleashed a wave of passenger demand,” said the report. It added that traffic within Western Europe had been 95% of pre-pandemic levels since mid-2022, returning the largest groups to profitability in Q3.
Because of China’s continued COVID-19 lockdowns, the Asia-Pacific region has struggled. Chinese airlines had experienced a 35% decline in revenue and a net loss of nearly $10 billion in the first half of 2022, and it is likely that the results for the second half of the year will add to that deficit, even though they should be offset to some degree by other airlines in the region.
The report says if the global industry manages to contain its nett loss for the full year to around the $10-15 billion mark, it would be equivalent to the industry’s annual losses in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.