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Air travel has almost recovered. Airlines? Not so much

David Fickling
David Fickling9/15/2022 12:29 PM GMT+08  • 5 min read
Air travel has almost recovered. Airlines? Not so much
Hongkong-based Cathay Pacific is the best performing airline stock year to date / Photo: Bloomberg
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It’s hard to remember what a normal aviation market looks like. Still, we’re getting closer to it with each passing week.

Passenger traffic in North America and Latin America in July was just 10% and 11.5% below levels in the same month of 2019, the International Air Transport Association said last week. In some places, numbers are even healthier. In Brazil, the world’s fourth-largest domestic aviation market was hit hard by 685,000 Covid deaths, sending its largest carrier LATAM Airlines Group SA into bankruptcy. That’s flipped, with domestic traffic in July ahead of 2019’s levels. The airports in Cancun and Las Vegas recently posted record passenger numbers.

Things look a bit worse as you head east. Across the world, traffic is still down by a quarter, and in Asia-Pacific numbers are off by nearly half. And for air cargo, which boomed in 2021 thanks to congestion in land- and sea-based freight and the post-Covid rush of goods consumption, the return to more normal pre-pandemic transport patterns is mildly bad news.

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