CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 79% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
US English

Pandemic wipes out 15 years of airline passenger growth

By Angela Barnes

10:20, 3 January 2022

Passenger commercial airplane flying above the clouds into sunset.
Passenger traffic in Europe down the most in 2021 compared to 2019 levels – Photo: Shutterstock..

The Covid-19 pandemic has wiped out 15 years of airline passenger growth, with air traffic falling back to 1999 levels last year, a new report has found.

According to the latest Cirium Airline Insights Review 2021, from January to September 2021 (based on full-months available), there was 56% less passenger traffic versus the same period in 2019.

“Domestic passenger traffic accounts for 79% of total traffic in this period and international traffic accounts for 21%. When looking back at 2019, domestic traffic accounted for 58% of the total, and international 42%,” the report said.

From a regional perspective, passenger traffic in Europe was down the most compared to 2019 levels, with 66% less traffic year-over-year. In the Asia-Pacific region, traffic was down 61%; in the Middle East, it was 60% less than 2019; and in Latin America and the Caribbean, it was down 55%. North America showed a more positive outlook, with 40% less passenger traffic than pre-pandemic levels.

Outlook for the year ahead

According to the review, the latest outlook for the airline industry is more optimistic compared to predictions for 2020.

“For 2022, capacity is projected to grow at 47%, recovering to around 2015 levels. However, our long term forecast is that the world will still have lost some three to four years of growth – as far into the future as 2038,” the report said.

Overall, it said recovery proceeded more quickly in countries where vaccination rates were above 70% and where domestic travel restrictions were removed.

“The world has seen steady improvement in airline traffic and capacity through 2021, with most markets moving in the right direction. We knew domestic markets would be the first to recover. However, certain domestic markets are now growth stories, including Russia and China - and the US and Brazil are not far behind,” the report said.

Transatlantic travel

The Insights Review also highlighted that transatlantic travel may not return to 2019 levels until sometime in 2023, and added that fares are likely to jump. In the longer term, there may be under upward pressure due to sustainability initiatives.


38,084.85 Price
+0.190% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0616%
Short position overnight fee 0.0137%
Overnight fee time 22:00 (UTC)
Spread 106.00


16,028.70 Price
+0.110% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0262%
Short position overnight fee 0.0040%
Overnight fee time 22:00 (UTC)
Spread 1.8

Oil - Crude

76.62 Price
-0.110% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0187%
Short position overnight fee -0.0032%
Overnight fee time 22:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.030


0.62 Price
-0.060% 1D Chg, %
Long position overnight fee -0.0753%
Short position overnight fee 0.0069%
Overnight fee time 22:00 (UTC)
Spread 0.01168

“If we rewind to summer 2021, New York to London fares rose significantly for travel in August compared to 2019 one-way economy. Economy fares rose from $300 to $396, up some 32%,” the Cirium publication said.

“In contrast, business class fares dropped 10%, from $1,598 to $1,441 for travel in August 2021. UK carriers were eager to add capacity when the US reopened in early November. Until we see data from November and December 2021 – there’s always a lag - it will be hard to predict the return of the transatlantic corridor,” it added.

Busiest airports 

Atlanta topped the list as the busiest airport by arriving flights tracked between January 1 and October 31, 2021. 

Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle were also in the top ten, while Shanghai, Beijing and Delhi were among the top 20 busiest airports last year.

“From January to October 2021 (based on full-months available), the total number of passenger flights reached around 17,882,000 compared to 15,000,000 in 2020, so the recovery is underway. However, compared to the same timeframe in 2019, flights are still 38% down year-over-year from a total of 28,980,000 flights tracked in 2019,” Jeremy Bowen, Cirium’s chief executive added.

Aircraft deliveries 

The report also noted the impact the pandemic had last year on aircraft delivery:

“Initially, it was due to a lack of appetite by airlines to take new aircraft amid ongoing lockdowns, but more recently there have been supply-chain issues and the enforced suspension of Boeing 787 deliveries amid production quality issues.

“Airbus remains on course to achieve its 2021 target of around 600 shipments, almost 90% of which will be from its single-aisle lines. The picture is far less certain at Boeing, with no end in sight yet for the pause in B787 deliveries and a sustained large inventory of undelivered aircraft including some 320 B737 MAX at year end,” the report added.

Read more: Debt-ridden Evergrande calls trading halt in Hong Kong

Related topics

Rate this article

Capital Com is an execution-only service provider. The material provided on this website is for information purposes only and should not be understood as an investment advice. Any opinion that may be provided on this page does not constitute a recommendation by Capital Com or its agents. We do not make any representations or warranty on the accuracy or completeness of the information that is provided on this page. If you rely on the information on this page then you do so entirely on your own risk.

Still looking for a broker you can trust?

Join the 570.000+ traders worldwide that chose to trade with

1. Create & verify your account 2. Make your first deposit 3. You’re all set. Start trading