ACI forecasts ‘strong air travel demand’ through 2023 summer months

By Kristiane Sherry |

The summer season should be a ‘strong’ one for northern hemisphere airports and airlines, according to ACI data.

Airports Council International (ACI) has published its latest quarterly report which predicts ‘strong’ air travel demand as inflation eases and consumer confidence builds.

Every quarter, ACI releases an Advisory Bulletin on the impact of COVID-19 on the airport business – and the path to recovery.

The latest report forecasts 2.7 billion air passengers for the second quarter of the year, rising to 2.9bn in Q3. 

In addition to cooling inflation and increasing consumer confidence in OECD markets, ACI says declining jet fuel prices will also strengthen demand.

Projected global passenger volumes for 2023 now stand at 8.4 billion, accounting for 92% of 2019 levels. 

China drives demand

Volumes across Asia Pacific are expected to reach 2.9 billion for the calendar year, which represents 85.3% of 2019 traffic. 

The shift in Chinese government policy to reopen the economy has seen an uplift in both global activity and air travel. GDP growth is accelerating to 4.5%, up from 2.9% in 2022 Q4.

Quarterly passenger traffic by region against 2019 levels. IMAGE: ACI

International passenger share is expected to reach 38% in 2023, close to 2019’s 42%. 

Despite the building tailwinds, ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said the industry must remain “vigilant”. 

Allow airports to ‘operate as businesses’

“GDP growth forecasts have moderated and energy and food prices, although decreased from their peak levels, remain higher than pre-pandemic levels. 

“Inflation will also be an issue in the near term, straining the financial viability of airports as they face increased operational costs.

“Amidst this background, regulators must support airports by allowing them to operate as businesses in their own right. 

Medium-term air traffic projections. IMAGE: ACI

“In many jurisdictions, airports cannot adjust charges without regulatory approval – conversely, airlines can freely adapt their tariffs based on demand and supply factors. 

“Flexible policies on charges can help airports recover and grow sustainably, optimise the use of infrastructure and the customer experience, invest in current and future infrastructure, meet decarbonisation targets, and maximise airports’ social and economic benefits amongst many other benefits.”

Last month, ACI World launched its Sustainability Expansion Plan, a new strategy for its global airport membership that aligns with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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