The airline industry is set to grow by 47 percent next year according to London-based global aviation analytics firm Cirium.
In its second annual Airline Insights Review, it says the steep increase 2022 indicates capacity could return to 2015 levels by the end of next year.
Cirium said that last year, the pandemic and its consequences wiped out 15 years of global passenger capacity growth—based on the total number of seats flown—in a matter of months, reducing 2020 capacity flown to levels last seen in 2005.
Regions with strong domestic markets showed accelerated recovery this year—in particular, in the US and China. In fact, Chinese domestic flights are up 6 percent up compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Cirium noted that in the 10 months to October 31, 78 percent of flights tracked were domestic flights.
In Australia, Qantas and Virgin Australia will have most staff back by the end of the month as well as most of their domestic fleet.
Virgin Australia is growing its fleet from 58 to 84, while Rex has announced it will add another eight 737s to its roster of six and new upstart Bonza will have eight aircraft within the first 12 months of operations.
Jeremy Bowen, chief executive of Cirium said that “the past year has had its challenges as we continued to face fluctuating cases of COVID-19, new variants—most recently Omicron—and varied vaccination programs per country.”
“Cirium’s experts have analyzed 2021 data and formulated forecasts for 2022 and beyond. Near the end of 2022, global capacity will return to 2015 levels, as we see a steep increase in more seats returning to the skies.
Cirium says global domestic traffic (measured in passenger numbers) is predicted to be back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022 with international passenger traffic likely to reach two-thirds of 2019 levels.
It also projects that the global passenger fleet in service will increase to 20,700 by the end of 2022—only a few hundred less than at the end of 2019—pre-pandemic.
Cirium believes that the slow recovery of business travel seen so far will change in 2022, with predictions from the industry that there will be a 36 percent surge in business travel year-over-year.
And aviation’s impact on climate change will be a major focus of passengers says that consultancy.
“Cirium anticipates the return to normalcy will usher in more focus on sustainable travel practices, including younger, more fuel-efficient aircraft, and the ability to more closely measure the impact of airline travel on global greenhouse gas emissions,” said Bowen.
It says that airlines are returning more fuel-efficient fleets to service and sustainability has become front and center in aviation, with many looking at fuel burn and how to reach net-zero 2050 targets.