World Returning to Pre-Pandemic Normalcy

There are many signs that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is over, and that the world is finding a way to live with a disease that will likely be with us for decades, in much the same way as we continue to experience influenza seasons one hundred years after the Spanish Flu blighted the world.

One of the key signs of this change is that people are beginning to travel again. This is clearly apparent on the roads of most major cities, as well as in the increase in air traffic.

As the map above shows, there are now 67,663 routes linking some 10,000 airports on a regular schedule. There are now up to 8,755 commercial flights in the air at any given time of day. These flights transport thousands of people (and millions of dollars’ worth of goods) around the world.

These numbers are still below the pre-COVID levels, but the recovery is impressive. At its worst, in April 2020, air traffic had collapsed by 25% for cargo flights and a massive 85% in passenger traffic. These numbers have staged a significant recovery, with cargo flights now down only 3% from their pre-pandemic level, while passenger traffic remains 25% lower, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Forward bookings are showing that, despite the disruptions being felt by the war in Ukraine and the pandemic shutdowns in China, air traffic should recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2023.

This is a positive sign for a global economy desperately seeking to return to normal.

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