Cargo revenue is expected to account for US$191 billion of industry revenue in 2022, announced International Air Transport Association (IATA). “That is down slightly from the estimated US$204 billion in 2021 but nearly double the US$100 billion achieved in 2019,” the aviation regulatory body said while releasing its industry outlook at its 78th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit being held in Doha, Qatar from June 19-22.
According to the IATA report, the industry is expected to carry over 68 million tonnes of cargo in 2022, which is a record high. “As the trading environment softens slightly, cargo yields are expected to fall 10.4 per cent compared with 2021. That only partially reverses the yield increases of 52.5 per cent in 2020 and 24.2 per cent in 2021.”
“Overall expenses are expected to rise to US$796bn. That is a 44% increase on 2021, which reflects both the costs of supporting larger operations and the cost of inflation in some key items.”
IATA also announced an upgrade to its outlook for the airline industry’s 2022 financial performance as the pace of recovery from the Covid-19 crisis quickens.
Globally, industry losses are expected to reduce to US$9.7 billion (improved from the October 2021 forecast for an US$11.6 billion loss) for a net loss margin of -1.2 per cent. That is a huge improvement from losses of US$137.7 billion (-36% net margin) in 2020 and US$42.1 billion (-8.3 per cen net margin) in 2021.
Industry revenues are expected to reach US$782 billion (+54.5 per cent on 2021), 93.3 per cent of 2019 levels. Flights operated in 2022 are expected to total 33.8 million, which is 86.9 per cent of 2019 levels (38.9 million flights).
“Air cargo stood out as a lifeline for vaccines, supply chains, and airline revenues throughout the COVID-19 crisis,” says Willie Walsh, Director General, IATA while addressing the air transport summit in Doha.
“And it has grown to be an even more vital contributor to revenues.”
“Losses will be cut to US$9.7 billion this year and profitability is on the horizon for 2023,” Walsh added.
“It is a time for optimism, even if there are still challenges on costs, particularly fuel, and some lingering restrictions in a few key markets,” he said.
At US$192bn, fuel is the industry’s largest cost item in 2022 (24% of overall costs, up from 19% in 2021). This is based on an expected average price for brent crude of US$101.2/barrel and US$125.5 for jet kerosene.
“Airlines are expected to consume 321 billion litres of fuel in 2022 compared with the 359 billion litres consumed in 2019. War in Ukraine is keeping prices for Brent crude oil high,” the IATA report clarified.
“Nonetheless, fuel will account for about a quarter of costs in 2022. A particular feature of this year’s fuel market is the high spread between crude and jet fuel prices. This jet crack spread remains well above historical norms, mostly owing to capacity constraints at refineries. Under-investments in this area could mean that the spread remains elevated into 2023. At the same time, high oil and fuel prices are likely to see airlines improve their fuel efficiency — both through the use of more efficient aircraft and through operational decisions.”
“Efficiency gains and improving yields are helping airlines reduce losses even with rising labour and fuel costs (the latter driven by a +40 percent increase in the world oil price and a widening crack spread this year),” the IATA report said.
“Industry optimism and commitment to emissions reductions are evident in the expected net delivery of over 1,200 aircraft in 2022.”
Strong pent-up demand, lifting of travel restrictions in most markets, low unemployment in most countries and expanded personal savings are fueling a resurgence in demand that will see passenger numbers reach 83 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022. The challenge for 2022 is to keep costs under control.
“The reduction in losses is the result of hard work to keep costs under control as the industry ramps up,” says Walsh.
“The improvement in the financial outlook comes from holding costs to a 44 per cent increase while revenues increased 55 per cent. As the industry returns to more normal levels of production and with high fuel costs likely to stay for a while, profitability will depend on continued cost control. And that encompasses the value chain. Our suppliers, including airports and air navigation service providers, need to be as focused on controlling costs as their customers to support the industry’s recovery.”
Industry revenues are expected to reach US$782 billion ( an increase of 54.5 per cent from 2021) and over 93 per cent of 2019 levels. Flights operated in 2022 are expected to total 33.8 million, which is 86.9 per cent of 2019 levels (38.9 million flights).
The impact of the war in Ukraine on aviation pales compared with the unfolding humanitarian tragedy, the report highlighted.
“The outlook assumes that the war in Ukraine will not escalate beyond its borders. Among the many negative impacts of an escalation for aviation, rising fuel costs and a dampening demand due to lowered consumer sentiment would be paramount.”
Just under 1 per cent of global freight traffic originated in or is transited through Russia and Ukraine.
The greater impact is in the specialised area of heavy-weight cargo where Russia and Ukraine are the market leaders, and the corresponding capacity loss will be difficult to replace. About 19 per cent of international cargo shipments (CTKs) transits through Russian airspace (2021 data), the report noted adding that carriers impacted by sanctions face higher costs for re-routing.
Hosted by Qatar Airways, IATA’s 78th AGM is expected to witness participation of around 1,000 aviation leaders from IATA member-airlines, governments, industry stakeholders and strategic partners are likely to attend the event.