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Airlines on pace for unprecedented US$1 trillion revenue, record 5 billion passengers in 2024, amid post-Covid bounce back

WorldAirlines on pace for unprecedented US$1 trillion revenue, record 5 billion passengers in 2024, amid post-Covid bounce back


Fossil fuel-burning airlines are also under pressure to contribute to the fight against climate change and make progress towards a pledge to reach “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050.

This year’s expected US$30 billion profit “is a great achievement considering the recent deep pandemic losses”, IATA director general Willie Walsh told the body’s annual general meeting in Dubai.

“Without a doubt, aviation is vital to the ambitions and prosperity of individuals and economies. Strengthening airline profitability and growing financial resilience is important,” he added.

People at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the Philippines. Airlines will fly almost five billion passengers in 2024 and revenues will near US$1 trillion, both record highs, trade body IATA said. Photo: Shutterstock

The Covid-19 pandemic plunged the aviation industry into crisis, grounding fleets and costing thousands of jobs. IATA put the losses at US$183 billion between 2020 and 2022.

But despite the expected bounce-back to record passengers and revenues of US$996 billion this year, some clouds remain.

As well as the record expenses, the return on invested capital is estimated at 5.7 per cent in 2024, about 3.4 percentage points below the average cost of capital.

The net profit margin is just 3.1 per cent, amounting to about US$6 per passenger – a slight improvement on 2023, which is estimated at US$27.4 billion net profit with a 3.0 per cent margin.

“Earning just US$6.14 per passenger is an indication of just how thin our profits are – barely enough for a coffee in many parts of the world,” Walsh said.

Airlines are facing a sharp rise in costs due to shortages of parts and labour, as well as challenges related to climate change, including flooded runways and forest fires.

In April, Dubai’s airport, the world’s busiest for international passengers, was closed by severe flooding that left standing water on the runway and forced the cancellation of more than 2,000 flights.

02:30

Dubai airport flooding from record rainfall strands thousands of travellers

Dubai airport flooding from record rainfall strands thousands of travellers

The extreme rainfall in the desert United Arab Emirates was likely exacerbated by man-made global warming, according to an international grouping of scientists that examines extreme weather events.

Air transport currently accounts for less than three per cent of global CO2 emissions, but is often in the firing line because it serves a minority of the world’s population.

Production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), taken from renewable sources, will triple this year to 1.9 billion litres, or 1.5 million tonnes, IATA said on Sunday.

But SAF will account for just 0.53 per cent of the industry’s fuel needs in 2024, the body added.

It is expected to provide 65 per cent of aviation’s “net zero” mitigation by 2050, with the balance expected to come from greater efficiencies, new technologies and carbon offsets.

After Doha in 2022, Istanbul in 2023 and Dubai this year, IATA’s 2025 AGM will be held in New Delhi – the centre of an aviation boom, including record-breaking aircraft orders by Indian carriers.



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