Industries in Depth

This chart shows how the airline industry will return to profit next year

An aeroplane wing.

IATA expects global airline losses to amount to $6.9 billion this year. Image: Pexels/Pixabay

Felix Richter
Data Journalist, Statista
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Industries in Depth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Travel and Tourism is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Travel and Tourism

  • Airlines are expected to leave COVID-related turbulence behind in 2023 and return to profitability.
  • Profits are expected to reach $4.7 billion – still far below the $26.4 billion recorded in 2019.
  • Fuel costs and high inflation are weighing on the industry's results this year.

As the world observes International Civil Aviation Day on December 7 to “generate and reinforce worldwide awareness of the importance of international civil aviation to the social and economic development of states,” the global aviation industry looks set to leave Covid-related turbulence behind and fly into calmer skies. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airlines managed to cut their losses significantly in 2022 and are now predicted to return to profitability in 2023.

The IATA expects global airline losses to amount to $6.9 billion this year, a significant improvement over 2020 and 2021, when the industry realized losses of $137.7 and $42.0 billion, respectively. Going forward, the IATA expects the aviation sector to return to profitability, albeit a much lower level compared to pre-pandemic times. Profits are expected to reach $4.7 billion next year, compared to $26.4 billion in 2019. Looking at the profit margin – 0.6 percent expected for 2024 vs. 3.1 percent in 2019 – reveals that there is still a lot of ground to cover for the industry to return to previous heights.

Now that travel restrictions have been lifted in most parts of the world, high fuel costs, inflation and the weak economic outlook are weighing on the industry’s results. “The expected profits for 2023 are razor thin,” the IATA concludes. “The challenges that airlines will face in 2023, while complex, will fall into our areas of experience. The industry has built a great capability to adjust to fluctuations in the economy, major cost items like fuel prices, and passenger preference.”

A chart showing estimated net profit/loss of the global airline industry from 2019-2023.
Looking at the profit margin 0.6% expected for 2024 vs 3.1% in 2019. Image: Statista.
Have you read?
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Industries in DepthFinancial and Monetary Systems
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.


Top 5 countries leading the sustainable tourism sector

Robin Pomeroy and Linda Lacina

April 29, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum