We are less than a week till the new year begins. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at what we can expect from the aviation industry in 2022, especially after plenty of ups and downs this year.
Technological advances and the easing of restrictions will dictate the tone of the market for much of 2022. While there will still be challenging conditions, there is more optimism compared to this time last year.
Cargo will continue to boom
2020 and 2021 saw a significant rise in cargo activity amid new consumer habits backed by the e-commerce boost. The urgent need for medical supplies also fuelled the increase in operations. The rise is continuing into 2022. IATA reported that there was a 9.1% increase in air cargo demand in September. October then saw a 9.4% increase.
As a result of this pattern, airlines such as Qantas have recently been converting their aircraft into freighters. Moreover, there has been a plethora of orders for freighters such as the Boeing 777F and Airbus A350F.
The pandemic will continue to take its toll
Several governments continue to keep or reintroduce travel restrictions amid the rise of new variants. The global health crisis is far from over. In the long term, industry stakeholders will be keen to find a balanced approach. So, rather than outright border closures, vaccination and testing requirements will likely be the standard in many regions. One thing for sure is that face masks requirements will remain prevalent in most markets throughout the year.
Long-haul narrowbody triumphs
This year saw the Boeing 737 firmly become a mainstay at airports after its return to the skies from the end of 2020. China has also laid the foundations to recertify the type, setting a strong platform for the type next year. On the Airbus side, the A321LR helped JetBlue inaugurate transatlantic service to the UK from New York this year. The model has also been performing well across the ocean with TAP Air Portugal.
Passengers are continuing to get used to traveling on a narrowbody on long distances. With a single-aisle option a more economical solution on certain routes, especially during periods of downtime due to restrictions, we can expect more international narrowbody services.
The big four United States carriers have held a market share of over 80% in recent years. Forbes notes that this figure will drop to just 60% in 2022. The likes of Breeze Airways and Avelo Airlines have gotten off to a strong start. Meanwhile, the more experienced players such as Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, and Allegiant will continue to take advantage of the new domestic focus in the US to grab a greater market share.
At the end of this year, global powerhouses have been announcing that they are making progress on their exits from bankruptcy. For instance, LATAM filed a restructuring plan in November. Furthermore, Avianca exited Chapter 11 protection this month. Numerous airlines also recently reported profits for the first time since the pandemic began.
With the hope that society will be better adapted to the conditions of the health crisis by the time 2022 is over, those that have battled with long-term financial difficulties, such as Air India, with its new ownership, and South African Airways, will be looking to overturn their fortunes.
Altogether, even though 2021 was a tough year for aviation by usual standards, there was significant progress compared to 2020. The industry will be hoping for far more frequencies, passengers, and profits by the time the next year is over.