Passenger-growth projections amid the Ukraine war

According to consultancy Ascend by Cirium, passenger demand during Summer 2022 could be severely impacted by the conflict in Ukraine. Let’s see what the underlying reason for this statement is.

Closer to 2019 levels, but the Ukraine war is a serious threat

According to the consultancy Ascend by Cirium, next summer, passenger numbers will keep increasing, in line with the forecast published by the consultancy in September 2021. If this were the case, revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) would reach 85% of the pre-pandemic levels (2019).

For the time being, senior consultant Richard Evans sustains there is no evidence that the Ukraine war will change this scenario. However, this statement does not mean that the conflict does not represent a severe threat to the industry. Nonetheless, the risks do not stem from the war itself but from its consequences instead.

The indirect impact of the war on the aviation industry

The consequences of the war on the sector might impact the aviation industry in different ways. For instance, if Germany’s industries were to suspend operations because of a lack of gas, this would affect the country’s economic performance, thus reducing the volume of outbound travel from the country.

Moreover, the shutdown of the Russian airspace implies longer fuel burn and, therefore, higher ticket prices. This will most likely affect carriers’ growth over the next months. Consequently, the consultancy has questioned the return to pre-pandemic levels by August 2022.

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@Anton Jerad / Travel Radar" width="1024" height="576" srcset=" 1024w, 300w, 768w, 380w, 800w, 1160w, 260w, 1280w" sizes="(max-width: 696px) 100vw, 696px" /> Aeroflot A320 taxiing. @Anton Jerad / Travel Radar

Different regions will be affected to a different degree

The impact of the war will affect the industry differently according to the different areas of the world. For instance, short-haul solid performances in North America and Europe will sustain the recovery, leading to pre-pandemic levels by year-end.

Differently, recovery patterns are already lagging behind projections in Asia-Pacific, China, CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), and Russia.

In the latter case, the impact of the war is definitely going to become worse as the war does not seem to come to a stop. Indeed, as of 1 April, there were just 73 aircraft flying internationally in Russia, compared to the 493 at the start of 2020. Moreover, most of the international destinations from Russia are now to former Soviet countries in Eurasia.

Furthermore, with import-export relations with Western countries, including the US, downgrading minute by minute, Russia will face significant challenges in stocking up spare parts, which will make it difficult for Russia-based carriers to keep their aircraft flying. For instance, domestic travel in the country has already fallen by 40%, with projections expected to worsen in the coming months.

What do you think of the current situation in Russia? Let us know in the comment below! 

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Giacomo Amati
Giacomo Amati
Aviation Reporter - Giacomo has been passionate about commercial aviation since his very childhood. Currently, he is pursuing a Master in Air Transport Management at the University of Surrey, UK. His expertise within the industry entails an internship with Emirates Airlines in Milan Malpensa airport and a bachelor's thesis on the financial status of the former Italian national carrier, Alitalia. Besides aviation, Giacomo loves foreign languages, German being his favourite one, and travelling.


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