EconomyFinancialThe omicron and low demand complicate the start of...

The omicron and low demand complicate the start of the year for airlines

Aeroméxico, Viva Aerobus and Volaris, the main airlines in the country, had a difficult start to the year due to the increase in infections through new variants of COVID-19, which added to a usually low season. Despite this, the recovery of pre-pandemic traffic continues, even in segments as challenging as the international one.

According to the transfer reports of the three companies, the recovery of pre-pandemic traffic has been stronger in the domestic market, mainly in the case of the last two companies, which have found an exceptional opportunity to grow as a result of the cessation of Interjet operations.

The case of Viva Aerobus represents the highest growth in passenger traffic, with more than double the number of users in 2019, going from 2.1 to 3.9 million passengers. Similarly, Volaris raised it 70%, going from 4.5 to 7.7 million travelers in the accumulated figure for the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2019.

Even Aeroméxico, which has its largest market in the international segment, is about to recover its total traffic, which to date remains 18% below pre-pandemic levels, which accumulates just over 4.1 million users, according to data from the Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) and airline traffic reports.

This trend coincides with the recovery of the air sector in general, which during February still reflected an 11.9% drop in passenger traffic in Mexico compared to the same month of 2019.

“Compared to the same accumulated period of 2019, there is a significant lag (…) that could largely be the result of the effects of the omicron variant,” the Anáhuac Center for Research and Tourism Competitiveness (Cicotur) explained in an analysis.

Globally, this factor, coupled with rising inflation and new cases of COVID-19 infections in some regions of China, have delayed air traffic recovery forecasts for up to a year, according to an analysis by the firm Bain & Company.

The expectation is that air traffic levels return to pre-pandemic levels until the second quarter of 2025, according to a report by the consultancy. “Under current conditions, global airline revenues by 2022 will reach $488 billion, representing an increase of 8% compared to the previous forecast. This figure would represent 73% of the income of 2019”.

However, in Mexico the expectation is that the recovery will be faster, even after the difficult start of the year.

“This March we continue with an upward trend in demand both in the domestic and international markets after the outbreak of the omicron variant,” said Juan Carlos Zuazua, general director of Viva Aerobus, quoted in the airline’s March traffic report. .

“Going forward, we must continue to adjust our capacity in line with growing demand, while seeking new expansion opportunities in the markets where we have a presence,” he detailed.

Viva Aerobus and Volaris plan to continue adding aircraft to their respective fleets, which makes the forecast in Mexico more encouraging than in other regions.

“Since September 2021, Mexico has remained the second market in the entire American continent with the best air traffic recovery projections for July 2022, with an estimate of 78% only behind the 83% projected for the United States,” he says. Bain & Company analysis.

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