The latest Airline Business Index shows the global airline industry is nearing three-quarters of its pre-Covid size, driven by rapidly returning passengers and revenue in the third quarter. 

The overall score of 72 (2019 = 100) represents an increase of six from the score on 30 June 2021, 12 from the 31 March 2021 result and 13 from the 31 December 2020 index.

Using data from 13 of the largest airline groups that release quarterly 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 third quarter of 2021. 

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

The index continues to show a disconnect between the fundamentals of the businesses – employee count and fleet size – and the operating performances, although the gap has been closing in recent data.

Indeed, the latest index marks the first time both operating revenue and passenger numbers have exceed 50% of pre-Covid levels.

At the same time, workforce and fleet are proving resilient amid the continued restructuring programmes at many of the world’s airline groups.

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 September 2021 (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.