IATA has upgraded the severity of the risks posed by supply-demand imbalances in its latest industry forecast, as factors such as aircraft delivery delays weigh on the airline sector.

“We have changed our mind a bit on the supply-demand imbalances, which we think are impacting more and for longer than we were hoping,” said IATA chief economist Marie Owens Thomsen at the association’s AGM in Istanbul on 5 June.

She repeats a “very good expression” of the imbalances that she heard from an industry stakeholder: “When aircraft are delivered six months late that is considered to be on time.”

Marie Owens Thomsen

Source: BillyPix

Owens Thomsen says the supply-demand imbalance has proven more severe than initially expected

The supply-chain problems behind such delays reflect the fact that “it was so much easier to turn the global economy off than it was to turn it back on again”, Owens Thomsen suggests.

And the constraints go beyond aircraft, to include factors such as ATC capacity restrictions caused by a lack of staff. 

“We have various constraints in all kinds of domains, not only supply of aircraft and parts but even in terms of the airspace, we are constrained,” she says.

That means airlines must be “aware, alert and agile” in handling the associated challenges, Owens Thomsen states.

Supply constraints are a hot topic at the AGM, with most airline chief executives complaining of worsening aircraft maintenance and delivery delays.

Despite such issues, IATA expects the airline industry to make a net profit of $9.8 billion this year, a doubling of its initial projection for sector profitability.