Aviation revenue to hit $964 billion, African airlines to post $0.5b losses in 2024

  • Infrastructure, connectivity impact region’s industry performance

Wole Shadare, Geneva, Switzerland

Having recovered from the 2020 Covid pandemic that did incalculable damage to the global aviation industry, industry revenues are expected to reach a historic high of $964 billion according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

While other regions in the world are expected to post profits in 2024, African carriers are expected to generate losses in both 2023 and 2024.

IATA Global Media Day, Geneva

The continent according to the airline body remains a difficult market in which to operate an airline, with economic, infrastructure, and connectivity challenges impacting the industry performance.

Despite these challenges, the group stated that there is robust demand for air travel. Underpinned by this demand, the industry continues to reduce losses.

The Director-General of IATA, Willie Walsh in his presentation on the review and outlook for aviation in 2024 at the ongoing IATA Global Media Day in Geneva, Switzerland said an inventory of 40.1 million flights is expected to be available in 2024, exceeding the 2019 level of 38.9 million and up from the 36.8 million flights expected in 2023.

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The high travel demand coupled with limited capacity due to persistent supply chain issues, he said continues to create supply and demand conditions supporting yield growth, stressing that passenger yields in 2024 are expected to improve by 1.8% compared to 2023.

Similarly, the airline industry’s net profits are expected to reach $25.7 billion in 2024 (2.7% net profit).

“Considering the major losses of recent years, the $25.7 billion net profit expected in 2024 is a tribute to aviation’s resilience. People love to travel and that has helped airlines to come roaring back to pre-pandemic levels of connectivity.”

IATA

The speed of recovery has been extraordinary, yet it also appears that we can expect more normal growth patterns for both passengers and cargo,” said Walsh.

He further disclosed that industry profits must be put into proper perspective, reiterating that while the recovery is impressive, a net profit margin of 2.7% is far below what investors in almost any other industry would accept.

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“Ofcourse, many airlines are doing better than that average, and many are struggling. But there is something to be learned from the fact that, on average, airlines will retain just $5.45 for every passenger carried. That is about enough to buy a basic ‘grand latte’ at a London Starbucks. It is far little to build a future that is resilient to shocks for a critical global industry on which 3.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) depends and from which 3.05 million people directly earn their livelihoods”.

The IATA DG maintained that airlines will always compete ferociously for their customers, but stated that they remain too burdened by onerous regulation, fragmentation, high infrastructure costs, and a supply chain populated with oligopolies.

According to the clearing house for over 310 global airlines, overall revenues in 2024 are expected to rise faster than expenses, strengthening profitability.

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While operating profits are expected to increase by 21% ($40.7 billion in 2023 to $49.3 billion in 2024), net margins profit increased at least less than half the pace (10%) largely due to increased interest rates expected in 2024.

Taking a holistic at other expenses such as jet fuel, IATA disclosed that fuel price is expected to average $113.8/barrel (jet) in 2024 translating into a total fuel bill of $281 billion, accounting for 31% of all operating costs. Airlines are expected to consume 99 billion gallons of fuel in 2024.

IATA Director-General, Willie Walsh

High crude oil prices are expected to continue to be further exaggerated for airlines as the crack spread (premium paid to refine crude oil into jet fuel) is expected to average 30% in 2024.

Wole Shadare