The impact of COVID-19 on long-term air traffic forecasts


The COVID-19 pandemic brought the aviation industry to a standstill. ICAO has been actively monitoring the economic impact of COVID-19 on civil aviation and publishes monthly reports that give insight into aviation’s recovery.  Within this scope, ICAO developed a set of post-COVID-19 forecasts scenarios by route group from 2018 to 2050. The forecasts have been developed for passenger and freight traffic, and revolve around three scenarios: mid, high and low. These forecasts have been approved by the Air Transport Committee of the ICAO Council.

The objective of the post-COVID-19 forecasts was to update the passenger long-term forecasts (LTF) to account for both the short-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the eventual long-term recovery. This requires a combination of updated macroeconomic data and recent estimates of the demand shock (measured in changes to revenue passenger-kilometers (RPK)) to the aviation industry.

The freight LTF was re-estimated similarly to the passenger forecasts by using the ICAO LTF models from the 2018 baseline with updated economic forecasts, the extent of the 2020 downturn, and near-term recovery guided by input from the Multi-Disciplinary Working Group on Long-term Traffic Forecasts (MDWG-LTF), as well as with additional data from the industry. In these times of uncertainties, the post-COVID forecasts scenarios developed by the Secretariat and MDWG-LTF are expected to facilitate the planning needs of States, airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and other stakeholders.

The passenger and freight forecasts, the composition of the international route groups, and the Statistical regions can be accessed here. The latest ICAO forecasts are also made available in this digital application.