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Forecast: Global Aviation Could Bounce Back by End of 2021

The analysis foresees global problem hotspots, but predicts airline capacity might be 90 percent of 2019 levels within a year

December 24, 2020

Within the first six months after COVID-19 vaccines become widely available, the airline industry is likely restore the majority of its pre-pandemic capacity worldwide, according to an analysis from Crisis24, a global integrated risk management firm.

The company’s 2021 Global Risk Forecast finds a number of global trouble areas and potential hotspots that are likely to be exacerbated as the pandemic recedes. However, among the hopeful signs, the report cites the recovery of air travel one of the possible source of optimism in the coming year.

Acknowledging the dramatic drops in air travel the pandemic has caused throughout the world, the report predicts passenger numbers will likely remain depressed in almost all major markets through the remainder of the pandemic. But what happens in commercial aviation once the pandemic begins to wind down “remains a topic of significant debate within the industry,” according to the forecast.

“The first six months after the COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available will likely see airlines restore the majority of their pre-pandemic schedules. Instances in countries that have controlled the COVID-19 pandemic suggest that the public will be eager to travel and that airlines will add flights faster than they previously expected to accommodate the high demand.”

The good news for businesses, according to the analysis, is that there should be ample capacity and low airfares,  with low-cost carriers leading the recovery with reduced pricing to encourage leisure travel.

However, the report cautions airlines may encounter safety challenges as they ramp up operations after a long period of relatively low activity. Airlines that have effective safety cultures should be able to deal with these concerns.

In concluding its analysis of global aviation in the post-pandemic situation, the 2021 Global Risk Forecast goes on to state: “The airline industry will likely defy projections of a long-term slump in air travel following the COVID-19 pandemic, and it would not be surprising to see passenger numbers at the end of 2021 to be at least 90 percent of what they were at the end of 2019.”

As its top concern for 2021, Crisis24 cites the equitable and effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Other likely problem areas are ongoing environmental concerns and political tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and Latin America, but the report finds hopeful signs of progress in the Middle East.

Crisis24 is a global risk services company owned by GardaWorld who recently acquired the expertise of WorldAware. The company provides its clients with intelligence, technology and risk services needed to support travel, and protect employees, assets and reputation anywhere in the world.