Advisory Bulletins

Global passenger traffic expected to recover by 2024 and reach 9.4 billion passengers

Industry outlook for 2023–2024

Montreal, 27 September 2023 – Airports Council International (ACI) World has published its fourteenth quarterly assessment analyzing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, its effects on airports, and the path to recovery.

Passenger traffic forecast 2023–2024: key takeaways

  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the global passenger volume was estimated to reach 10.5 billion passengers in 2023. However, the current projection of global passenger volume in 2023 is approximately 8.6 billion passengers, which is 94.2% of the 2019 level.
  • The year 2024 is expected to be a milestone for global passenger traffic recovery as it reaches 9.4 billion passengers, surpassing the year 2019 that welcomed 9.2 billion passengers (102.5% of the 2019 level). Compared to the pre-COVID forecast that predicted 10.9 billion passengers in 2024, the effects of the pandemic represent a potential loss of 13.9%.
  • The Africa region is expected to have a steadily increasing pattern for the upcoming years, reaching 221 million passengers, or 96.3% of the 2019 level, in the year 2023. The region is forecasted to reach 253 million passengers, or 110.6% of the 2019 level, by the end of 2024. This steady growth is expected to be driven by emerging markets, such as Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia.
  • While the Asia-Pacific region is expected to have a substantial jump in passenger traffic in the first half of 2023 along with the ongoing opening of the Chinese market, its recovery is predicted to slow down significantly in the second half of the year due to challenges in overseas tourism and looming economic concerns. By the end of the year, the region is expected to reach 2.9 billion passengers, or 87.3% of the 2019 level. With the uncertainty from both upside and downside factors, the region is expected to reach approximately 3.4 billion passengers, or 99.5% of the 2019 level, in 2024.
  • Recovery in the Europe region is expected to slow down in the year 2023 and 2024, in contrast to the sharp uptick experienced during its 2022 summer season. By the end of 2023, around 2.3 billion passengers are expected in the region, or 95.5% of the 2019 level. This will further increase in the year 2024 while at a slower pace, to around 2.5 billion passengers, or 101.4% of the 2019 level.
  • The Latin America-Caribbean region is forecasted to be the first region to surpass its 2019 level. In 2023, the region is estimated to reach 707 million passengers, or 102.9% of the 2019 level. In 2024, the region is expected to welcome 759 million passengers, or 110.5% of the 2019 level. Like the Africa region, emerging markets such as Colombia and Mexico are predicted to drive the region beyond the 2019 level.
  • The Middle East region was the fastest-recovering market in the year 2022. In the year 2023, the region is predicted to continue its recovery and reach 394 million passengers, or 96.8% of the 2019 level. In 2024, the passenger number is projected to be 429 million, or 105.4% of the 2019 level. This forecast may be impacted by the economic circumstances of neighboring markets.
  • By the end of 2023, the North America region is estimated to reach near the 2019 level with 2.0 billion passengers, or 99.8% of the 2019 level.  While the region showed a strong recovery during 2021 and 2022, driven by domestic travel, its growth for the next couple of years is expected to continue at a slower pace. In the year 2024, passenger traffic in the region is forecasted to reach 2.1 billion passengers, or 103.7% of the 2019 level.

Chart 1: Projected global quarterly passenger traffic compared to the 2019 level (2020–2024, quarterly indexed, 2019 level = 100%)

Source: ACI World

Table 1: The impact of the COVID-19 crisis on quarterly passenger traffic by region, compared to the 2019 level (2020–2024, rounded to the nearest million passengers)

* Estimated passenger traffic volumes are based on a broad range of inputs provided by ACI Regional offices and industry experts.

Source: ACI World

In 2023, global passenger traffic is projected to reach 94% of the 2019 level. The baseline projections for global passenger traffic indicate that the industry will recover to 2019 levels by 2024.

Chart 2: Medium-term global passenger traffic projection (indexed, 2019 = 100)

* Estimated passenger traffic volumes are based on a broad range of inputs provided by ACI Regional offices and industry experts.

** The projected baseline (pre-COVID-19) scenario is based on a standard time-series forecast generated using the most up-to-date and complete historical data to May 2023. It also makes use of adjusted World Airport Traffic Forecasts (WATF) 2019–2040 and considers the latest insights provided by ACI Regional offices and other inputs.

Source: ACI World

The gap between the Business as Usual (BAU) forecast from 2019 and the current recovery projections for total passenger traffic is shown in Chart 3. The percentage of lost traffic continues to decrease on a quarterly basis, from -23% in Q1 2023 to -13% in Q4 2024.

Chart 3: Global passenger traffic – estimated losses and recovery (in billion passengers)

About ACI

Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, is a federated organization comprising ACI World, ACI Africa, ACI Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, ACI EUROPE, ACI Latin America and the Caribbean, and ACI North America. In representing the best interests of airports during key phases of policy development, ACI makes a significant contribution toward ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally sustainable. As of January 2023, ACI serves 712 members, operating 1925 airports in 171 countries.