Global air traffic is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by June, according to a 2023 outlook released by aircraft leasing company Avolon on Monday.
The rebound in flights will be led by China now that the country has lifted its COVID-19 restrictions. “For every two seats of airline capacity added in the world today, one is in Asia,” the report says.
This year’s recovery will come after a 70% increase in air travel in 2022, driven by reopening in Europe and North America.
A spike in demand for flights may unearth some problems for airlines. The pandemic brought on a major aircraft shortage: 2,400 planes that would have been built were not because of the lockdown, according to Avolon’s report.
Nancy Volmer, director of communications and marketing at Salt Lake City International Airport, pointed to the pilot shortage as another obstacle to airlines’ full recoveries.
However, Volmer expressed confidence in the airlines’ abilities to rebound from the shortage.
“From what we’re hearing, that’s something that the airlines have been addressing and they feel like they’ll be fully staffed and be able to return to pre-pandemic operations,” she said.
Airline expert and blogger Brett Snyder believes increased flight demand won’t be a concern for U.S. airlines.
“It’s a much bigger deal for Chinese and other Asian carriers,” he said.
Volmer said Salt Lake City International Airport fared well compared to other U.S. airports, which she partially attributed to the fact that Salt Lake City is the “back door to a lot of outdoor recreation,” and many people used the pandemic as an opportunity to escape into nature.
The Salt Lake City’s airport was not immune to COVID-19-related flight suspensions, but Volmer noted a successful rebound in 2022.
“Last year we were probably at about 95% of our seat capacity, and what we’re expecting for this summer is to get back to 100% of seat capacity,” she said.