IATA expects the airline industry to post a collective net profit of $23.3 billion for 2023, more than doubling its expectations for the year from six months ago.

The airline industry association had in June projected an industry profit of just under $10 billion for this year, itself a doubling of its initial forecast.

Willie Walsh IATA

Source: BillyPix

IATA adds that it sees a modest rise in industry profits to $25.7 billion in its first projections for 2024.

Disclosing its latest forecast in Geneva today, IATA’s improved profit outlook is based on a near $100 billion upgrade in revenue expectations. IATA had forecast industry revenues of just over $800 billion in its June forecast, but now expects collective airline turnover of $896 billion.

While it has improved its outlook for all regions, perhaps the most notable improvement since June comes from Asia-Pacific. IATA now expects airlines in this region to reach almost break even this year, having previously forecast a net loss of $7 billion.

IATA profit forecast breakdown by region
Region2023 net profit estimateChange v Jun 2023 forecast2024 net profit forecast
 Source: FlightGlobal analysis of IATA Dec 2023 and Jun 2023 forecasts
North America $14.3bn $4.6bn $14.4bn
Europe $7.7bn $2.6bn $7.9bn
Middle East $2.6bn $0.6bn $3.1bn
Asia-Pacific ($0.1bn) $6.8bn $1.1bn
Africa ($0.5bn) no change ($0.4bn)
Latin America ($0.6bn) $1bn ($0.4bn)
Total $23.3bn $13.3bn $25.7bn

It remains one of three regions, alongside Africa and Latin America, which IATA expects to be loss-making this year. While IATA sees Asia-Pacific carriers posting a small $1.1 billion profit next year, it still expects African and Latin American airlines to collectively be in the red in 2024.

North American airlines continue to drive industry profits. IATA sees airlines in this region posting a profit of $14.3 billion – $3 billion more than in its June forecast – and a similar profit in 2024. 

It also upgraded its profits outlook for European carriers to $7.7 billion this year and now sees Middle East carriers making a collective profit this year of $2.6 billion.

The expected net profit though does marks a return to the black for the industry as a whole, after three consecutive years of losses during the pandemic. Industry net losses stood at $3.8 billion in 2022.

IATA director general Willie Walsh says: ”The speed of recovery has been extraordinary, yet it also appears that the pandemic has cost aviation about four years of growth. From 2024 the outlook indicates we can expect normal growth patterns for both passenger and cargo.”

While IATA sees an almost $9 billion improvement in industry operating profit in 2024 to $49.3 billion, it sees higher interest rates clipping the rise in total net profitability for the industry to just a little over $2 billion in reaching $25.7 billion.