In its latest briefing, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) indicated that its member airlines are looking at 2024 for air traffic to recover.

The association’s recently issued outlook joins the predictions laid out by such chief executives like Guillaume Faury of Airbus or Tim Clark of Emirates, who foresaw that it will take at least four years for the industry to return back to normal. Airports Council International (ACI) Europe also recently revised its forecast, as air traffic failed to make inroads, despite the lift of travel restrictions.

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While borders slowly opened throughout Europe, the recovery in passenger volume has been disappointing, indicated Airports Council International (ACI) Europe.
 

The failure to contain the virus in the United States and other developing countries and the weak outlook for corporate travel were some of the reasons that IATA cited for the worsening outlook. In addition, while throughout June 2020 passenger numbers continued to rise for the second consecutive month, the increase is “disappointingly weak,” stated chief economist of the association Brian Pearce. 

“Passenger traffic hit bottom in April, but the strength of the upturn has been very weak. What improvement we have seen has been domestic flying,” highlighted the Director General and CEO of IATA Alexandre de Juniac.

Furthermore, load factors remained at an all-time low, as the average aircraft occupancy rate in June 2020 was just 57.6%. A year before, the number was 84.4%.

On the bright side, the cargo market has recovered faster so far than the passenger market. In June 2020, the global demand fell by 17.6%, while a 20.1% year-on-year drop was seen in May 2020. Despite the increase in traffic, there was a capacity gap of 16.5%, as global capacity recorded a downfall of 34.1% in June 2020.

“Cargo is, by far, healthier than the passenger markets but doing business remains exceptionally challenging,” stated de Juniac.

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The air freight market has experienced a true rollercoaster over the past few years. From a disastrous 2019, now, the sector is trying to catch up to the demand, as there is a capacity gap. But going forward there is a lot of uncertainty. Can freighter conversions help diverse some of that uncertainty?