The global economic environment will be generally supportive of the airline industry’s recovery once borders begin to re-open, according to John Heimlich, Vice President and Chief Economist for Airlines for America. Citing research from Wells Fargo, Heimlich told the World Air Transport Summit that global GDP should rise 4.4% next year, while the US, UK, and Eurozone will see even stronger performance at 4.5%, 5.5%, and 4.5%, respectively.

However, Heimlich noted that the absence of higher value international and corporate travel is slowing the recovery. Corporate travel in the US remains 60% below 2019 levels, he noted. He cited data showing that in 2019, the top 10% US-Europe Passengers accounted for approximately 40% of U.S.-Europe passenger revenue, while the top 20% accounted for 56%.

The good news is that since the Labor Day holiday, US ticket sales for international travel have risen. Additionally, IATA show a 50% surge in Europe to US bookings since the US government announced it would lift the 212f travel restrictions which prevented those without the right to permanently reside in the US from entering the US if they had been in the UK, Ireland, all Schengen countries and some non-European destinations.

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