In an exclusive video interview with TRBusiness, Airports Council International (ACI) World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira has offered an upbeat assessment on the pace of the international passenger traffic recovery, with markets such as India, Indonesia and China tipped to accelerate gains into 2024.
Global air passenger traffic is predicted to reach 8.6 million in 2023 – approximately 95% of the level recorded in 2019 – with that number expected to rise to approximately 9.4 billion in 2024.
Predictably, international passenger volumes are set to reach parity with 2019 in 2024 and surpass pre-Covid numbers in full-year 2025.
While clear downside risks to travel remain – macroeconomic and geopolitical instability exacerbated by conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, for instance – upside momentum can be seen in the reopening of China’s borders, a surge in domestic travel, a subsidence in supply chain disruptions, and cooling inflation.
“The recovery is different in different parts of the world, we have some regions especially Asia Pacific that is a little behind considering the markets in China took longer to open, but we see a positive move in that part of the world […],” explained Oliveira in the video interview.
As reported in ACI’s World Airport Traffic Dataset released earlier this year, the global share of international passenger traffic climbed from 25.3% in 2021 to 38.4% in 2022.
In an informative appraisal of the health of the global aviation industry, ACI World’s Director General spoke at length to TRBusiness in an interview filmed during the recent TFWA World Exhibition & Conference in Cannes about what he views as a move away from airports being seen as mere passenger hubs, to green energy hubs.
He also touched on ACI’s ‘Airports of Tomorrow ‘ partnership with the World Economic Forum and how this is helping to prioritise energy, infrastructure and financing needs towards aviation’s net-zero carbon 2050 goal.
“This project with four pillars [Infrastructure, Sustainable Aviation Fuel, Finance, and Innovation] is very ambitious in how airports will reach the next level in terms of being engaged in the energy transition,” he continued.
“In addition, we need finance for airports to cope with growth, infrastructure and green investments.
“We need US$2.4 trillion dollars in terms of the investments to 2040 and we are working very closely with an international organisation and international development banks to develop certain standards on ESG.”
Last month at the third ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3), held in Dubai, UAE, the global aviation sector took further steps to accelerate its decarbonisation by adopting a new global framework for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), Lower Carbon Aviation Fuels (LCAF) and other Aviation Cleaner Energies.
As a result, ICAO and its member states have agreed an objective of reducing carbon emissions in international aviation by 5% by 2030.
COP28, which concluded earlier this month in Dubai, resulted in a package of climate measures being agreed among countries, including a deal to ‘transition away’ from fossil fuels.
*Since this interview was filmed, ACI World announced that Luis Felipe de Oliveira will stand down from his position as Director General of the association at the end of 2024.