Airports Council International (ACI World) has published its latest quarterly air travel outlook, with global passenger volumes expected fall just short of 2019 levels this year.

The council now forecasts that global traffic will reach 8.6 billion passengers in 2023 – 94.2 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

But 2024 is expected to be “a milestone for global passenger traffic recovery”, with figures reaching 9.4 billion passengers, equating to 102.5 per cent of the 9.2 billion recorded in 2019.

ACI also forecasts that the Latin America-Caribbean region will be the first to surpass 2019 levels, with the region expected to welcome 707 million passengers this year – 102.9 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

The Asia-Pacific region has experienced “a substantial jump in passenger traffic” in the first half of this year, with carriers including Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines both reporting increasing traffic numbers. But ACI said that the region’s recovery is predicted to slow down significantly in the second half of the year “due to challenges in overseas tourism and looming economic concerns”.

The Asia-Pacific region is now expected to reach around 3.4 billon passengers in 2024 – 99.5 per cent of 2019 levels.

Recovery in Europe is also expected to slow down in the year 2023 and 2024, “in contrast to the sharp uptick experienced during its 2022 summer season”.

The region is now forecast to welcome 2.3 billion passengers this year (95.5 per cent of 2019 levels), before increasing to 2.5 billion in 2024 (101.4 per cent of pre-pandemic levels).

Earlier this month the International Air Transport (IATA) has released its latest traffic figures, showing global airline passenger traffic surpassed 95 per cent of pre-Covid levels in July.

Global airline passenger traffic surpassed 95 per cent of pre-Covid levels in July

Commenting on the news ACI World director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira, said:

“ACI World projects that global air travel will nearly return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, with all regions expected to reach this milestone by 2024. Upside factors include the reopening of the Chinese market and surge in domestic travel, supply chain disruptions gradually subsiding, and inflation slowing down.

“While downside risks remain present, we continue to witness the dedicated efforts and commitment of ACI airport members and partners, and we are filled with optimism about the industry’s future.

“Aviation is a key driver of growth, jobs, and prosperity, providing employment, social benefits, and economic development to communities worldwide. This sector remains a steadfast force in global economic recovery, bridging connections among people, cultures, and economies.”