Hostile Territory: The Effects of Somalia and Somaliland’s Airspace Dispute

Since the start of the year, tensions between Somalia and Somaliland (an independent but internationally unrecognized state) have been high. While the two territories have been going at it for years, tensions have increased since the signing of an MoU between Ethiopia and Somaliland on January 1.

The MoU would see landlocked Ethiopia gain access to the Red Sea through the Port of Berbera in exchange for recognizing Somaliland as an independent country and granting it a stake in Ethiopian Airlines. Seeing this as an attack on its sovereignty, Somalia immediately rejected the arrangement, causing further tensions between the Horn of Africa countries. This was followed by an airspace dispute, which has resulted in several incidents and raised concerns about airline safety in the region.

Who controls the airspace over Somalia?

The unstable political situation in Somalia seriously impacted the country’s aviation sector for many years. The previous national carrier, Somali Airlines, also suffered due to a civil war in the early 90s. However, following improvements in certain areas, the airspace over Somalia was reclassified to “Class A” last year. This saw the return of air traffic control services in the country after three decades. Also highlighting how far the air transport sector has come, Somalia recently opened its first Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) center in over 30 years.

The airspace over Somalia and the surrounding ocean is managed by the Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) from the Mogadishu Area Control Center. “This airspace, known as the Mogadishu Flight Information Region (FIR) and its controlling authority are defined under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Navigation Plan for the Africa and Indian Ocean (AFI) Region, which recognizes Somalia as the controlling State, by extension the Somali Civil Aviation Authority,” explained a spokesperson from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to Simple Flying.

On the other hand, Somaliland has control over its airports but not the upper airspace. Egal International Airport (HGA) is the state’s main airport, serving the capital of Hargeisa. Following the signing of the Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU, Somali authorities began restricting flight activity in Somaliland to assert its authority over its airspace.

Consequences of the ongoing dispute

On January 17, the SCAA blocked an Ethiopian Airlines Dash 8 carrying Ethiopian delegates from entering the airspace, saying it had no permission to enter the country. The SCAA also reportedly blocked an air ambulance that was carrying a Somaliland citizen who “needed urgent help.” However, the Somali authorities denied the last claim.

In return, Somaliland claimed independence over its territory and surrounding areas, issuing an international aviation advisory and a statement on its X (formerly Twitter) page. It is attempting to control air traffic in the region from Hargeisa. With both states claiming the right to control traffic, there have been multiple reports of airlines receiving conflicting instructions while overflying the area.

Crews receiving instructions to climb and descend

Over the past month, airlines flying over Somalia have reported receiving conflicting instructions from different air traffic controllers. Last week, an Ethiopian Airlines (ET) Airbus A350 and a Qatar Airways (QR) Boeing 787 narrowly avoided a collision as TCAS intervened. The Qatar Airways crew had been wrongly instructed by ATC in Mogadishu to climb from 38,000 ft to 40,000 ft while the ET aircraft was flying at 38,000 ft, about 180 NM from Hargeisa. Some experts suggest this might have been a mistake on the ATC’s part.

OPSGROUP notes that it received at least ten reports of aircraft flying over Somalia “being contacted by a ‘fake controller’ on the same frequency, issuing conflicting instructions.”The Horn Observer also reported that on February 14, a Qatar Airways A320 crew received conflicting instructions from air traffic controllers on a flight from Doha to Mogadishu via Djibouti.

An El Al 787 crew flying from Phuket to Tel Aviv on February 18 reported receiving communication disturbances while overflying Somalia. It is believed that a hostile group attempted to hijack the flight radio. El Al explained that “the disturbances are not aimed at El Al planes and that this is not a security incident.” It is not entirely clear if this was also a result of the disputing controllers in Mogadishu and Hargeisa.

Somali authorities issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) warning of unlawful VHF interference in the area over Somaliland (150NM radius of Hargeisa). It indicated that flights in the area should not expect altitude adjustments unless directed by authorities in Mogadishu. This was followed by a statement on February 19, accusing Somaliland of disrupting “the lines used by airplanes over parts of the airspace of the northern regions of Somalia.” It added that “if these offensive measures continue,” the Somali government would have to “take strong measures to ensure the security and safety of the Somali Civil Aviation.”

The mysterious death of an air traffic controller

One of the most significant developments in this dispute was the death of Abdinasir Muse Abdirahman, a Somaliland-born air traffic controller working with the Somali Civil Aviation Authority. He was found dead in his apartment in Mogadishu on February 18, and his body showed signs of strangulation and severe torture. Six suspects were immediately detained by Somali police officers.

While there are ongoing investigations in both states, the Somaliland Civil Aviation and Airports Authority (SCAAA), in a statement from February 20, accused Somalia and its Civil Aviation Authority of a “conspiracy to kill AHN Abdinasir Muse Dahale, and the illegal detention of his friends to cover up the involvement of the government agencies.”

The fate of operations over Somali airspace

The area over East Africa is one of the busiest on the continent. The region is also home to some of Africa’s most prominent airlines, including Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways. Some of the busiest airways, connecting the African subcontinent south of Ethiopia with destinations in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, pass through Somali airspace. The same applies to air links between Western Europe and the Indian subcontinent and Indian Ocean islands.

As the IATA spokesperson said, no airline would fly in “unsafe airspace.” The risks of flying over Somalia have been assessed by the Air Navigation Service Provider and the operators, who have implemented mitigation measures. Yesterday, Ethiopian Airlines announced that it would change some of its routes to avoid Somali airspace. The carrier will now fly over Djibouti, affecting some flights to Asia and the Middle East. However, it has maintained its schedules to Mogadishu and Hargeisa.

For airlines still flying over the country, crews have been advised to be wary of the environment and follow instructions in the NOTAM issued by Mogadishu authorities advising them to contact the Mogadishu Area Control Center through additional methods like controller pilot data link communications (CPDLC) or satellite communication (SATCOM), particularly in the area within a 150 NM radius of Hargeisa.

Source: Simple Flying.

Sky Without Borders: How Africa’s Single Air Market Could Revolutionize Continental Travel

Explore how the SAATM initiative is breaking barriers in African aviation, fostering economic growth, and reshaping the continent’s air travel landscape.

Imagine boarding a flight in Lagos, making a brief stop in Nairobi to pick up more passengers, and then heading straight to Cairo – all on a single ticket. This vision, once a distant dream, is inching closer to reality with the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative.

Spearheaded by aviation authorities across the continent, including insights from Mr Ronnie Balongo of the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), the SAATM is set to redefine what interconnectivity means for African nations.

Breaking the Chains of Point-to-Point Travel

For decades, air travel within Africa has been constrained by a rigid point-to-point model. Direct flights between African countries are few and often expensive, deterring both business and leisure travel.

The SAATM seeks to dismantle these barriers by allowing airlines the fifth freedom of traffic rights. This essentially permits them to operate flights that pick up and drop off passengers in third-party countries not their own. It’s a game-changer that promises to transform the continent’s aviation landscape radically.

Fostering Greater Connectivity and Economic Growth

The benefits of the SAATM extend beyond mere convenience for travelers. By enhancing interconnectivity, the initiative is poised to stimulate economic growth, foster business expansion, and promote tourism across the continent.

Airlines will have the opportunity to explore new routes, thereby increasing their operational scope and potentially reducing costs for passengers. It’s a win-win situation that could see Africa’s aviation industry soar to new heights, making air travel more accessible and affordable for millions of people.

Challenges and Potential Setbacks

Despite the optimistic outlook, the journey towards a fully integrated African airspace is not without its hurdles. Regulatory challenges, infrastructure limitations, and concerns over market competition and security are just a few of the issues that need to be addressed.

Moreover, the success of the SAATM hinges on the willingness of individual countries to open their skies, a move that requires both trust and cooperation among nations with diverse interests and capabilities.

As the SAATM initiative moves forward, its implementation will undoubtedly be closely watched by industry stakeholders and travelers alike. The dream of a ‘sky without borders’ within Africa is on the horizon, promising to usher in a new era of air travel that could reshape the continent’s economic and social landscape.

Source:  BNN

Last Year Was Safest Ever for Commercial Air Travel: Airline Industry Body

The only fatal accident of a passenger plane was the crash of an ATR turboprop operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airlines during a domestic flight, killing 72 people, according to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) annual report.

Paris: Last year was the safest ever for commercial air travel, despite a massive rebound in passenger flights, an airline industry group said Wednesday.

The only fatal accident of a passenger plane was the crash of an ATR turboprop operated by Nepal’s Yeti Airlines during a domestic flight, killing 72 people, according to the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) annual report.

The IATA said it counted another 29 accidents in 2023 that did not involve fatalities or loss of the plane.

In 2022, there was a total of 42 accidents, of which five were fatal and took 158 lives.

The IATA counts a non-fatal accident as an event that causes damage of at least $1 million or equal to 10 per cent of the plane’s value.

IATA statistics do not cover business, military, private, maintenance or training flights.

The IATA said, “2023 saw the lowest fatality risk and ‘all accident’ rate on record.”

“On average a person would have to travel by air every day for 103,239 years to experience a fatal accident.”

The low crash rate came despite the number of flights last year rising 17 per cent to 37.7 million, the IATA said.

The IATA represents some 320 airlines comprising 83 per cent of global air traffic.

“Even if flying is among the safest activities a person can do, there is always room to improve,” said IATA Director General Willie Walsh, citing “two high-profile accidents in the first month of 2024.”

In January, a Japan Airlines A350 Airbus was safely evacuated after bursting into flames at a Tokyo airport.

In the United States, a panel blew off the fuselage of a Boeing 737 MAX during an Alaska Airlines flight, again without any serious injuries.

Source: NDTV   


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AFRAA, TMAM sign MoU to enhance airline/airport operations in Africa.

The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Terminals Malabo Airport Management (TMAM) to develop coordinated synergies that will align efforts to enhance airport and airline operations in Africa.

The MoU was signed by Abdérahmane Berthé, Secretary General, AFRAA and Ahmed Al Hadabi, Group CEO, Terminals Group on the sidelines of the Future of Air Transportation Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, says a release from AFRAA. “AFRAA and TMAM will focus on the following areas of collaboration:

*Efforts to promotion of travel and tourism within Africa

*Data sharing and analytics

*Initiatives to enhance operational efficiencies, customer service, and strategic planning

*Environmental sustainability

*Airport infrastructure development

*Training and capacity building

*Innovation and technology

*Emergency response and crisis management

*Special handling services

*Enhancement of customer service for passengers; and

*Advocacy and policy engagement.

” An annual work plan shall be developed to set and track progress of activities between AFRAA and TMAM, the release added.

Source:  Logistics Update Africa.

Nigeria Still Owes Foreign Airlines $700+ Million.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released an additional $64.4 million of blocked airline funds as part of its move to clear its foreign currency backlog and reduce liability to operators. However, about $700 million of airline funds remain trapped in the country as of January 2023.

CBN releases additional funds.

The failure of foreign airlines to repatriate funds from Nigeria and other countries has become a serious issue over the last few years. As noted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), it is among the biggest impediments to the development of aviation in certain markets. However, this year, Nigeria has made some progress in clearing its backlog.

According to the central bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Hakama Sidi-Ali, the financial institution released $64.44 million of blocked airline funds on January 30, 2024. This brings the total verified amount disbursed to foreign carriers to $136 million. As reported by Reuters, the bank is continuing efforts to clear all verified backlogs.

“The Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, and his team were doubly committed and would stop at nothing to ensure that the verified backlog of payments across all other sectors was cleared, and confidence was restored in the Nigerian foreign exchange market.”

Ali added that all verified claims have been cleared with this latest payment. Earlier this year, the central bank announced that it had released approximately $61.64 million belonging to foreign airlines through various banks. In total, about $2.5 billion of the backlog has been cleared across various sectors like manufacturing, petroleum, and air transport.

About $700 million remains blocked in Nigeria

While it is only a small percentage of the total amount of trapped funds in Nigeria, disbursing an additional $64 million is another step in the right direction. Responding to the central bank’s announcement, IATA welcomed the development but noted that there is still a long way to go before the issue is resolved. IATA said in a statement,

“The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomes the Central Bank of Nigeria’s announcement this afternoon that it has released an additional $64.44 million in blocked airline funds. We are consulting with our airline members to verify the release of their revenues.”

The association added that approximately $700 million remains blocked with Nigeria’s commercial banks. The situation in the West African country remains critical due to the devaluation of the Nigerian Naira (₦), which has dropped significantly against the US dollar. As such, foreign operators unfairly suffer due to lower exchange rates.

IATA will continue to work with the government to find solutions and maintain a conducive environment that ensures connectivity to various international markets. Nigeria has already suffered the effects of blocked funds, with Emirates suspending flights in 2022. The new administration has been working hard to have the Dubai-based carrier return to Nigeria and re-establish connections with the UAE.

International airlines serving Nigeria.

Despite challenges with retrieving funds, several international carriers still serve Nigeria. The country’s two main international airports, Lagos Murtala Muhammed (LOS) and Abuja Nnamdi Azikiwe (ABV), are among the busiest in West Africa and the continent. In 2022, while still recovering from the pandemic, Nigerian airports handled over 16 million passengers.

Last year, there were over 26 international carriers with scheduled flights to and from Nigeria. Among the local carriers, Air Peace has the most flights out of Nigeria, connecting the country to 11 international destinations. The top foreign carriers include Africa World Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, British Airways, and Lufthansa. Some carriers like Air France, British Airways, Ethiopian, and Qatar serve both Lagos and Abuja.

What are your thoughts on the Central Bank of Nigeria releasing additional airline funds? Please let us know in the comment section.

Source: Simple Flying.

IATA : Global Air Travel Demand Continued Its Bounce Back in 2023

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that the recovery in air travel continued in December 2023 and total 2023 traffic edged even closer to matching pre-pandemic demand.

•    Total traffic in 2023 (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) rose 36.9% compared to 2022. Globally, full year 2023 traffic was at 94.1% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels. December 2023 total traffic rose 25.3% compared to December 2022 and reached 97.5% of the December 2019 level. Fourth quarter traffic was at 98.2% of 2019, reflecting the strong recovery towards the end of the year.

•    International traffic in 2023 climbed 41.6% versus 2022 and reached 88.6% of 2019 levels. December 2023 international traffic climbed 24.2% over December 2022, reaching 94.7% of the level in December 2019. Fourth quarter traffic was at 94.5% of 2019.

•    Domestic traffic for 2023 rose 30.4% compared to the prior year. 2023 domestic traffic was 3.9% above the full year 2019 level. December 2023 domestic traffic was up 27.0% over the year earlier period and was at 2.3% above December 2019 traffic. Fourth quarter traffic was 4.4% higher than the same quarter in 2019.

“The strong post-pandemic rebound continued in 2023. December traffic stood just 2.5% below 2019 levels, with a strong performance in quarter 4, teeing-up airlines for a return to normal growth patterns in 2024. The recovery in travel is good news. The restoration of connectivity is powering the global economy as people travel to do business, further their educations, take hard-earned vacations and much more. But to maximize the benefits of air travel in the post-pandemic world, governments need to take a strategic approach. That means providing cost-efficient infrastructure to meet demand, incentivizing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production to meet our net zero carbon emission goal by 2050, and adopting regulations that deliver a clear cost-benefit. Completing the recovery must not be an excuse for governments to forget the critical role of aviation to increasing the prosperity and well-being of people and businesses the world over,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that air cargo demand rebounded in 2023 with a particularly strong fourth quarter performance despite economic uncertainties. Full-year demand reached a level just slightly below 2022 and 2019.

Global full-year demand in 2023, measured in cargo tonne-kilometers (CTKs), was down 1.9% compared to 2022 (-2.2% for international operations). Compared to 2019, it was down 3.6% (-3.8 for international operations).

Capacity in 2023, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometers (ACTKs), was 11.3% above 2022 (+9.6% for international operations). Compared to 2019 (pre-COVID) levels, capacity was up 2.5% (0.0% for international operations).

December 2023 saw an exceptionally strong performance: global demand was 10.8% above 2022 levels (+11.5% for international operations). This was the strongest annual growth performance over the past two years. Global capacity was 13.6% above 2022 levels (+14.1% for international operations).

Some indicators to note include:

Global cross-border trade recorded growth for the third consecutive month in October, reversing its previous downward trend.

December inflation in both the United States and the EU as measured by the corresponding Consumer Price Indices (CPI) stayed below 3.5% year-on-year. China’s CPI, however, indicated deflation for the third consecutive month, raising concerns of an economic slowdown.

Both the manufacturing output and new export order Purchasing Managers Indexes (PMIs) – two leading indicators of global air cargo demand—continued to hover below the 50-mark in December, usual markers for contraction.

“Despite political and economic challenges, 2023 saw air cargo markets regain ground lost in 2022 after the extraordinary COVID peak in 2021. Although full year demand was shy of pre-COVID levels by 3.6%, the significant strengthening in the last quarter is a sign that markets are stabilizing towards more normal demand patterns. That puts the industry on very solid ground for success in 2024. But with continued, and in some cases intensifying, instability in geopolitics and economic forces, little should be taken for granted in the months ahead,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Source: Travel and tour world.

Nigeria: Airlines’ Trapped Funds – Pressure Mounts Despite U.S.$61 Million Release.

Lagos — There’s a mounting pressure on the federal government to make significant releases to clear the foreign airlines’ trapped funds amidst their threat to exit Nigeria.

This is despite the release of $61.4m by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week as part of efforts to clear outstanding liabilities and bolster the foreign exchange market.

While there’s no updated data on the foreign airlines’ funds trapped in Nigeria, our correspondent reports that the money was $793m as of December 2023.

According to data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Nigeria accounted for a substantial part of airlines’ trapped funds globally.

The foreign airlines said the funds keep mounting hence the $61.4m was too infinitesimal to cover anything.

A foreign airline representative who spoke with our correspondent in confidence said the trapped funds hinder the operations of their airlines.

“We all know what the margin is for airlines. If your funds are trapped to that level, how do you fund your operations? From loans or what? You can fund from other locations for how long? If every nation holds back funds, will there be international flights?

Foreign airlines mull cut of Nigerian operations.

Amidst the raging controversy over dollar settlement, airlines are said to be considering the option of reducing or suspending their operations outright.

It was learnt that despite the substantial resolution of diplomatic issues with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the non-payment of Emirates Airlines’ trapped funds is responsible for the delay in resumption of flights to Nigeria.

“The airline is yet to see sufficient commitment of the Nigerian government to clear Emirates trapped funds which is the major reason for the airline’s suspension of operations in the first place,” the source said.

It would be recalled that Emirates suspended all flights to Nigeria on September 1, 2022 and despite two different visits of President Bola Tinubu to the UAE and follow-up visits by the Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo, the airline is yet to agree on resuming flights to Nigeria. “Yes, the trapped funds issue seems deadlocked,” said a source.

Similarly, other airlines are increasingly restless over their trapped funds, threatening to call it quits in Nigeria as the funds keep increasing.

“It is not a fair competition. My airline flies to Nigeria and our revenue is trapped. A Nigerian airline flies to our base country and they get their monies. Where is the fair competition?,” another foreign airline representative said. Aviation analyst, Group Capt. John Ojikutu, said aviation agencies would lose 80 per cent of their revenues if foreign airlines should leave in protest.

He said, “80% of our earnings in commercial aviation will be gone if the foreign airlines carry out their threats to withdraw their operations in Nigeria.

“Whoever knows Keyamo should tell him now. Whoever knows Tinubu should tell him now too to tell Keyamo to find out what happened to the forex earnings ($2.5bn) that the Nigeria Aviation service providers collected from the foreign airlines annually? This is not a joking matter like the palliatives and the subsidies.”

The General Secretary of the Aviation Roundtable and Safety Initiative (ART), Mr Olumide Ohunayo, decried a situation where foreign airlines pay for services in Nigeria in dollars, yet they cannot get dollars to repatriate their funds.

According to him, if the foreign airlines should leave as being threatened, Nigerian airlines cannot fill the vacuum.

More so he advised that Nigeria should take advantage of the reciprocity in the Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) to begin to operate some of those routes operated by foreign airlines.

He said, “The truth is that our airlines cannot fill the vacuum, that’s almost impossible, as much as I would not advocate for us to increase their frequencies, I think it’s time for us to start using those frequencies that are ours by virtue of the reciprocity in the bilateral service agreement we have with different counties.

Source: All Africa.

Kenyan Caravan operators’ source electric powertrains.

Safarilink and Yellow Wings are excited about the potential to transform regional aviation within Kenya and East Africa by demonstrating the viability and impact that electrified Caravans will have on the industry.

Safarilink, an airline connecting domestic scheduled flights to destinations within Kenya and Tanzania, and Yellow Wings Air Services, a Kenyan air operator that serves over 500 airfields throughout the East Africa region, are to upgrade their Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft with Surf Air Mobility’s proprietary electrified powertrain technology, once certified.

The two companies are pioneering the adoption of technologies necessary for a greener and quieter (crucial for Kenyan wildlife) future in transportation, and the agreement also aligns with the Kenyan government’s recent announcement to completely move away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources by 2030. Both Safarilink and Yellow Wings are already focused on sustainability and wildlife conservation efforts, however the companies believe.

the move to electrified aircraft will drive sustainability even further while setting the stage for global transformation.

“We at Safarilink are committed to doing everything possible to preserve the natural beauty of the countries we operate in,” says CEO Alex Avedi. “Implementing Surf Air Mobility’s electric powertrain technology will help us reduce the noise and minimize the climate impact of our flights as we help people from all over the world to experience our region’s incredible ecosystem.”

“We strongly believe in alternative propulsion for air travel. We have always been the frontrunners in adopting new systems and innovations. Kenya, with 91 per cent carbon free power generation, is the ideal country to spearhead this movement,” adds Yellow Wings CEO Christian Strebel.

This partnership marks another milestone as Surf Air Mobility seeks to expand its global footprint. As the exclusive partner to Textron to electrify the Caravan, it is focused on building its business in regions around the world, such as Africa, that are already significant markets for that airframe and where transportation providers are quickly adopting innovative mobility solutions.

Surf Air is developing the supplemental type certification for both hybrid and fully electric variants of the Cessna Grand Caravan.

“The Caravan is an amazing aircraft on which to develop our electrified powertrain, and we believe Safarilink’s and Yellow Wings’ operations are perfectly suited to demonstrate the benefits of our technology,” says CEO Stan Little. “We believe Africa is at the cutting edge of regional air mobility. Surf Air is excited to work with innovative, pioneering companies like Safarilink and Yellow Wings.”

“Our goal is to deploy our proprietary electrification technology on a global scale, in addition to our own network,” adds Fred Reid, global head of business development. “Upgrading Safarilink’s unlocklow Wings’ Caravan fleet with our electrified powertrains unlocks new possibilities. As air travel economics change with electrification, we believe Safarilink and Yellow Wings can improve current services, launch new viable routes and reduce environmental impact.”

 Source: ATTA Travel.

IATA: Airlines to soar with $25.7bn net profit in 2024 despite challenges.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed a positive outlook for the airline industry, projecting improved profitability in 2023 and stabilisation in 2024. However, concerns arise as global net profitability is expected to fall significantly below the cost of capital in both years, revealing substantial regional variations in financial performance.

2024 outlook highlights

In 2024, net profits for the aviation industry are forecasted to reach $25.7 billion, a marginal improvement from the projected $23.3 billion in 2023, resulting in net profit margins of 2.7% and 2.6%, respectively.

Return on invested capital is expected to lag behind the cost of capital by 4 percentage points in both 2023 and 2024, primarily due to a global increase in interest rates driven by heightened inflationary pressures.

Operating profits for the airline industry are on an upward trajectory, projected to rise from $40.7 billion in 2023 to $49.3 billion in 2024. Total revenues are anticipated to experience robust year-over-year growth of 7.6%, reaching a historic high of $964 billion. On the expense side, projected growth is slightly lower at 6.9%, resulting in a total expenditure of $914 billion in 2024.

Exceptionally, 4.7 billion individuals are expected to engage in travel in 2024, surpassing the pre-pandemic level recorded in 2019. Cargo volumes are predicted to increase, reaching 58 million tonnes in 2023 and rising to 61 million tonnes in 2024.

Willie Walsh, Iata’s director general, acknowledges the industry’s resilience, stating, “Considering the major losses of recent years, the $25.7bn net profit expected in 2024 is a tribute to aviation’s resilience.” He underscores that the recovery has come at the cost of about four years of growth.

Revenue and passenger trends

Industry revenues are expected to reach $964bn in 2024, with an inventory of 40.1 million flights, exceeding the 2019 level of 38.9 million. Passenger revenues are set to reach $717bn in 2024, reflecting a 12% increase from $642bn in 2023. Passenger yields are expected to improve by 1.8% compared to 2023, driven by high demand and limited capacity due to persistent supply chain issues.

Efficiency levels remain high, with the load factor expected to be 82.6% in 2024, slightly better than 2023 (82%) and consistent with 2019.

Cargo and expenses

Cargo revenues are projected to fall to $111bn in 2024, impacted by the growth of belly capacity and international trade stagnation. Yields are expected to decline by -20.9% in 2024.

Expenses are anticipated to grow to $914bn in 2024, with fuel prices averaging $113.8/barrel (jet). Airlines are expected to consume 99 billion gallons of fuel in 2024. The aviation industry is increasingly focusing on Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) and carbon credits to reduce its carbon footprint.

Industry CO2 emissions in 2024 are expected to be 939 million tonnes from the consumption of 99 billion gallons of fuel. SAF production is estimated to rise to 0.53% of airlines’ total fuel consumption in 2024, adding $2.4bn to next year’s fuel bill. The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is estimated to incur costs of $1 billion in 2024.

Regional roundup

At the regional level, North America, Europe, and the Middle East are expected to post net profits in 2023, with Asia Pacific joining the group in 2024.

However, Latin America and Africa are expected to face challenges, remaining in the red in 2024.

Global economic factors and risks

Global economic developments, wars, supply chain issues, and regulatory risks pose potential risks to industry profitability.

The aviation industry’s recovery is commendable, says Walsh, yet challenges persist, and profitability remains below average. Addressing regulatory burdens, infrastructure costs, and supply chain challenges will be critical for sustained resilience in this vital global industry.