Global airlines are set to return to black next year, said aviation veteran Willie Walsh.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), carriers are set to post a collective net profit of $4.7bn (£3.8bn) as more than 4 billion passengers will travel worldwide next year.
“That is a great achievement considering the scale of the financial and economic damage caused by government-imposed pandemic restrictions,” said Walsh, who has been at the organisation’s helm since April 2021.
Figures from aviation analytics firm Cirium showed that the airline industry has racked up a net loss of almost $220bn since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.
Revenues went down in 2020 by more than 50 per cent, ending still 40 per cent below 2019 levels in 2021.
Even though the sector will be in the red for the third consecutive year, IATA has shrunk its predicted losses to $6.9bn – 29 per cent down on earlier estimates.
Nevertheless, the former IAG executive warned that the recovery remains fragile, with many carriers still struggling due to high costs and regulations.
“Yes we are recovering; yes the momentum is improving; yes, we expect to continue to improve in 2023,” Willie Walsh told journalists.
“But the margins we are operating with are very small and we cannot tolerate a situation where airports in particular attempt to gouge airlines and their passengers by significant increase in airport charges.”
Walsh has always been a staunch opponent of airports increasing their charges, which are in turn passed on to consumers.
He’s had a particularly public row with Heathrow, as the west London hub increased its passenger chargers due to the pandemic’s impact.
City A.M. has approached airport trade body ACI for comment.