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Monday, February 6, 2023

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Air transport recovers from pandemic faster than expected

The air Transport The world is recovering faster than expected from the effects of the pandemic in COVID-19 and in Latin America this progress is even greater, said the president of the Executive Committee of the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), Pedro Heilbron.

The ALTA, of which 25 airlines from the region are part, holds its first meeting in Bogotá since 2019 -after the interruption forced by the pandemic-, an appointment that will be inaugurated this Monday by the Colombian president, Iván Duque.

Heilbron, who also chairs the Board of Directors of Copa Airlines, spoke at a press conference presenting the conference in which he cited figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), according to which the recovery is taking shape after a 2020 to forget about the suspension of air operations around the world.

“When the pandemic began, the recovery projections were for 2024 in the domestic market and for 2025 in the international market. They have brought this forward a year and we are talking about recovery compared to pre-pandemic levels, ”he said.

Heilbron added that “IATA estimates are that there will be a recovery in 2023 for domestic markets and by 2024 for international markets.”

Latin America ahead

In that sense, he added: “Latin America is doing a little better than the world averages and Colombia, better than the Latin American averages.”

Despite the good pace of recovery, it is expected that this year “international air transport will still be 60% below what it was in 2019” and “in domestic markets it will be 20% below” .

“This is a faster recovery, and the numbers improve month by month, which gives us a message of hope in the future of the industry in the short term,” he said.

Heilbron stressed that, although the pandemic is not over yet, “it seems to be under control in Latin America and we see it in the recovery of air transport, which is going step by step.”

Regarding results, he pointed out that worldwide an operating loss is estimated for the industry of 11% in 2021 (compared to 2019), while for Latin America a negative 18% is projected.

That figure, he indicated, “is considerably worse than the world average, despite the fact that we saw that in terms of traffic recovery in Latin America better numbers are expected.”

Reactivation in Colombia

Heilbron also highlighted the recovery of the aeronautical sector in Colombia, which he said “has been something surprising for everyone.”

In this regard, the head of the Air Transport Office of the Civil Aeronautics of Colombia, Lucas Rodríguez, said that a year after the reopening of flights in this country, which began in September 2020, “we already have 90% of recovery in domestic aviation and almost two-thirds in international aviation ”, a result that was expected for next December.

“The routes that have not been reactivated is because the destination country still has sanitary restrictions,” said Rodríguez.

This recovery has been possible because the country quickly resumed air connectivity for which it adopted “a simple strategy that has generated strong results,” said Gilberto Salcedo, vice president of the official ProColombia agency.

He explained that, on the one hand, the country reduced the value added tax on airline tickets from 19% to 5%, and on the other, ProColombia has made an international effort to promote the country abroad in conjunction with air operators. .

Among the issues that the ALTA members will discuss tomorrow and Tuesday in Bogotá are precisely the prospects for the recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean, the future of air travel, how the scenario of the cargo sector in the region has changed. and the challenges of Latin American airlines.

They will also address the path to air transport sustainability, the sector’s goals on climate change and pandemic changes, airline financing and leasing, and its current needs.

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