Global airline traffic rose to over half of pre-pandemic levels in 2022 according to data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Monday.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, airlines saw a sharp decline in travel in 2020 and 2021 and lost tens of billions of dollars. Profits started to return in 2022 as traffic picked up again.
Global traffic grew to 68.5% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels in 2022, and 64.4% from 2021.
In 2022, international traffic rose 152.7% in comparison to 2021, and 62.2% compared to 2019. As for domestic travel, it rose 10.9% compared to the previous year and 79.6% of pre-pandemic levels.
China recently reopened its borders after three years on January 8. Analysts emphasize that full recovery to pre-pandemic levels depends on how quickly travel to and from China can return.
Willie Walsh, IATA's director general, is hopeful that traffic will continue to rise in 2023.
"The industry left 2022 in far stronger shape than it entered, as most governments lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions during the year and people took advantage of the restoration of their freedom to travel. This momentum is expected to continue in the New Year, despite some governments' over-reactions to China's reopening," he said.
"It is vital that governments learn the lesson that travel restrictions and border closures have little positive impact in terms of slowing the spread of infectious diseases in our globally inter-connected world."
Some information for this report came from Reuters.