The strength of air transport’s recovery in the South American Region

Air transport has a significant impact on productivity and efficiencies in the business sector, helping to connect people and ideas and promote regional and local development. The industry drives national and international integration to promote tourism and services, transport valuable and perishable supplies, and assists in times of need, as it did throughout the pandemic.

The effects of COVID-19 on aviation were evident from the beginning of the health crisis. Despite the initial period when it almost came to a standstill, the aviation sector was steadfast on its path to recovery. Though traffic levels have not exceeded pre-pandemic levels in the South American (SAM) Region, traffic has been gradually recovering since the sharp decline at the beginning of the health crisis. With the inclusion of Latin America, the region has experienced one of the strongest recoveries around the world, with some countries already exceeding numbers from 2019.

In 2022 the forecast of passengers transported in the South American region reached approximately 85% compared with 2019 levels and had a positive growth of around 43% compared to 2021.

Number of Departures 2022 vs 2019, Source: ICAO

In terms of the number of departures, the SAM region is ahead of the world’s recovery, demonstrating the resilience of South American civil aviation. In this chart, we can see the comparative evolution between the two axes, with the SAM region below -7% and world air transport below -24% compared to 2019, based on ICAO data.

“The SAM Region’s recovery has shown that air transport is on the right path. Despite the economic challenges, we must keep moving forward to reduce States’ costs in performing economic regulatory functions, improve air connectivity, create more competitive business opportunities in the marketplace and increase consumers”, remarked the Regional Director of the ICAO SAM Regional Office, Fabio Rabbani.

In addition, the Regional Director highlighted that “it is essential to underline the intense and collaborative work carried out by the region in response to the crisis. We, as a region, promptly developed a sanitary protocol and also a strategic regional recovery plan, which was later adapted in the CART recommendations. This prompt response allowed the SAM States to be always ready to quickly adopt measures and report on the actions to meet these recommendations.”

The recovery in the SAM region is consistent and sustainable in terms of passengers and seat capacity, even with some countries exceeding 2019 levels. The region is facing important challenges in the global context with a rate of high inflation in all countries, which is increasing costs in the sector.

Despite the economic slowdown in the coming year and the economic challenges, not only in the SAM region, but around the world, the forecasts for 2023 show the region exceeding pre-pandemic levels. It also points to a homogeneous recovery among the States, particularly in terms of passengers and international capacity.