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IATA Expects Record Airline Revenues in 2024

'The human need to fly has never been stronger,' IATA's Director General said during the association's annual meeting.

An Emirates A380 arriving in London. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is forecasting total airline revenues for 2024 will reach a record high of $996 billion. This week, the airline trade association held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in Dubai, hosted by Emirates Airline. Director General Willie Walsh delivered his report on the air transport industry and indicated how 2024 is shaping up. “With a record five billion air travelers expected in 2024, the human need to fly has never been stronger,” said Walsh.

Recognizing the industry’s current state in relation to the recent past, Walsh said: “The expected aggregate net profit of $30.5 billion in 2024 is a great achievement considering the recent deep pandemic losses.” However, Walsh added: “That’s not a record, unfortunately, and represents a net margin of just over 3%. But considering where we were just a few years ago, it is a major achievement.”

In addition to economic statistics, Walsh reinforced safety as the number one priority of the airline industry. Regarding 2023, Walsh stated: “There were no fatal accidents among our 336 members or the 433 IOSA (IATA Operational Safety Audit) registered carriers. Globally, there was one fatal accident claiming 72 lives—a tragic reminder that safety must be earned with each and every flight.”

During his speech, Willie Walsh addressed a few of the challenges the airline industry has faced and may face in the future. He cited the decision by the government of the Netherlands to cut flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol by at least 40,000 flights annually as “a major afront to global standards.” The Dutch government’s actions were about noise concerns, though Walsh cited the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Balanced Approach to Noise agreed in 2001 as a standard “enshrined in the Chicago Convention and carries the weight of law in the EU and elsewhere.”

“The Dutch paid no heed to (ICAO’s Balanced Approach to Noise) in their politically motivated effort to cut Schiphol’s slots, without consultation,” he said. “And they had no concern for the Worldwide Airport Slot Guidelines—a global standard that was never intended to accommodate such a retrograde and illegal action. We protested. And when the EU and US joined, the Dutch backed down.”

Further concern was raised at proposed changes to how airlines currently report their corporate tax, in the country where an airline is headquartered. The changes would require airlines to report “in each and every market where revenue is generated.” Addressing the proposals directly, Walsh stated: “Only the battalions of accountants needed to manage the reporting mess will be happy if the change is made. Fortunately, our arguments seem to be gaining resonance. But vigilance is needed to ensure that governments continue to understand that these value-destroying changes serve no purpose for aviation or for their economies.”

This was IATA’s 80th AGM with over 1500 attendees including airline representatives, industry leaders, and government officials. Pieter Elbers, chief executive officer (CEO) of Indian airline IndiGo, began the one-year role of Chair of the IATA Board of Governors. Elbers succeeds RwandAir CEO Yvonne Manzi Makolo as Chair, a role that Luis Gallego Martin, Chief Executive Officer, IAG (representing IBERIA) will assume at the 81st AGM in Delhi, India in June 2025.

John Flett

Author

  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John has held the positions of course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and has been a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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