The latest Airline Business Index shows the global airline industry’s progress towards its pre-Covid size accelerated rapidly during the second quarter of 2022, as revenues in particular surged alongside passenger numbers.

Indeed, after the recovery stalled in the first quarter of 2022, it took off in the second three months of the year, with governments around the world loosening travel restrictions.

Operating revenue for the period was within touching distance of pre-crisis levels, aided in many markets by high passenger and cargo yields, which meant income recovery outpaced the strong return of passenger numbers.

Notably, the revenue score of 98 marks the first time that one of the index’s operating performance metrics has exceeded those for the business fundamentals (workforce and fleet sizes).

Helping to counter criticism in some quarters that airlines cut too many staff during the crisis, the index also shows how the industry has endured months of staffing and aircraft levels being far in excess of revenue and passenger demand.

The overall score of 91 (2019 = 100), represents a rise of 12 from the 31 March 2022 score of 79. The impact of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 meant the latter score represented no change from the score on 31 December 2021. The latest score is an increase of 19 from the score on 30 September 2021, 25 from the score on 30 June 2021, 31 from the 31 March 2021 result and 32 from the 31 December 2020 index.

Using data from 13 of the largest airline groups that release quarterly or half-yearly results, the index considers four metrics: size of workforce by employee number, size of fleet (in-service and stored), and revenue and passenger numbers at the end of the most recent reporting period – in this case, the second quarter of 2022.

It compares those figures with equivalent pre-crisis data from 2019.

On a quarterly basis, FlightGlobal releases an updated Airline Business Index as the industry attempts to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.

Notes: Data from reporting for the three-month period to 30 June 2022 (or nearest half-year period), taken from publicly available records. Workforce and fleet sizes compared with end-2019 levels. Revenue and passenger number metrics compared with data from the equivalent period in 2019. Basket of 13 airlines based on the largest carriers/groups that report quarterly or half-yearly results from FlightGlobal’s World Airline Rankings based on revenues. Overall index score is an average of the scores for the four individual metrics.