MIAMI – According to an IATA prognosis presented today, global airlines will lose an estimated US$51.8bn in 2021 and another US$11.6bn in 2022 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) forecasts reflect a steeper drop than the last forecast in April, which predicted losses of US$47.7bn this year. IATA also raised its loss projection for 2020 from US$126.4bn to US$137.7bn.

The economic outlook and latest recovery projections come as around 100 of the world’s biggest airline chiefs gather in Boston, US, for this year’s IATA’s 77th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit.

IATA logo. Image: Airways

Recovery Outlook by Region

Europe is anticipated to continue to lose money in 2022, with losses of US$9.2bn, compared to a loss of US$20.9bn in 2021. Intra-European travel will improve for the region’s carriers, but long-haul travel will remain limited, according to IATA.

In comparison to this year, carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa are likely to experience lower losses in 2022. North America is the only region that is expected to make a profit in 2022.

According to IATA, total passenger numbers will reach 3.4 billion in 2022, which is equal to 2014 levels but lower than the 4.5 billion seen in 2019.

Willie Walsh, IATA Director-General. Photo: IATA

Comments from IATA Director-General

While the shortfall for airlines is “enormous”, IATA Director General Willie Walsh said, “we are well past the deepest part of the crisis.”

In addition, airlines had lowered prices and taken advantage of rising demand for air freight, according to Walsh. “While serious issues remain, the path to recovery is coming into view,” Walsh said. “Aviation is demonstrating its resilience yet again.”

The Director-General was keen to point out that “re-establishing global connectivity” should be a top priority for governments, as they are seeing vaccinations “as a way out of this crisis.”

“People have not lost their desire to travel, as we see in solid domestic market resilience. But they are being held back from international travel by restrictions, uncertainty, and complexity…We fully agree that vaccinated people should not have their freedom of movement limited in any way,” Walsh said.

“In fact, the freedom to travel is a good incentive for more people to be vaccinated. Governments must work together and do everything in their power to ensure that vaccines are available to anybody who wants them.”

Featured image: Hong Kong International Airport – Photo: Hong Kong Airport Media. Article sources: IATA,