Airline Industry Passenger Numbers to Hit Historic Levels in 2024 with Improving Profit Margins, IATA Predicts

IATA graph showing airline industry predictions

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has forecasted an improvement in the airline industry’s profit margin to 2.7% for the year 2024. The forecast was revealed during the IATA Global Media Day (IATAGMD) currently being held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Total revenue is projected to reach an all-time high of 964 billion US dollars, with operating profit estimated at 49.3 billion US dollars and expenses at 914 billion US dollars. The net profit outlook is set to slightly increase to 25.7 billion US dollars from 2023’s 23.3 billion US dollars, marking a 0.1% rise in profit margin. Nonetheless, due to global interest rate hikes, the return on invested capital is expected to decrease by 0.4%.

IATA airlines statistics chart

Passenger numbers are predicted to be around 4.7 billion, exceeding the 2019 figure of 4.5 billion and reaching a historic level. Seat occupancy is expected to remain at a high of 82.6%. Cargo revenue is anticipated to fall to 111 billion US dollars, which is about half of the revenue in 2021 but still exceeds 2019 by 10 billion US dollars. Cargo volume is forecasted to increase to 61 million tons in 2024, up by 3 million tons from this year.

Fuel prices are predicted to be 113.8 US dollars per barrel, with the total cost of fuel expenses making up 31% of the total cost at 281 billion US dollars. The industry is expected to consume 99 billion gallons of fuel annually, resulting in the emission of 939 million tons of carbon dioxide.

According to a survey conducted by IATA in November, one-third of travelers have increased their travel frequency compared to the pre-COVID era, and nearly half indicated that their travel habits resemble those before the pandemic. Only a small fraction of 7% reported a decrease in travel frequency.

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