It may be an understatement to say that 2021 was much less dramatic for the airline industry than 2020. After the worst year in its hundred-year history, the industry picked itself up and dusted itself off in 2021. Last year saw steady increases in travelers, from January through the December holiday season. As we learned to work, connect, live and travel while coping with COVID-19 in our lives, airlines saw their businesses recover unevenly:
- Domestic travel recovered to near 2019 levels;
- Business travel only blipped upward a few times between COVID-19 variants;
- International travel was largely grounded by travel restrictions that seesawed between loosening and tightening; and
- Cargo volumes continue to trend upward.
Coming off of such an uneven 2021, airlines are poised to continue digging themselves out in 2022, taking advantage of whatever COVID-19 recovery permits, navigating an uncertain interest rate environment with massive amounts of debt, and continuing to steer the industry toward a greener future.
This article originally appeared in Law360 on February 2, 2022. It is republished here with permission.