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UN aviation body sees recovery to pre-pandemic air travel in 2023

NEW YORK - Demand for commercial travel is expected to make a full recovery in 2023, with volumes exceeding the 2019 level at the end of the year, a UN aviation body said Wednesday.

Forecasting a "complete and sustainable" recovery, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said demand will reach pre-pandemic levels on most routes by the end of the first quarter and exceed the 2019 levels by around three percent by the end of 2023.

The outlook came as the UN body released data that showed a significant uptick in travel last year compared with 2021, when more of the world still lived under severe COVID-19 restrictions amid limited distribution of vaccines.

In all, air passenger numbers reached 74 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022, while passenger revenues were estimated to have hit 68 percent of 2019 levels.

The ICAO said the number of air passengers carried in 2022 increased by 47 percent compared with the prior year.

The projections come as airplane makers Boeing and Airbus have also seen a significant surge in new plane orders.

That is due to pent-up demand after pandemic restrictions and the desire to replace older aircraft with newer planes that use less jet fuel and emit less carbon.

But both companies have cautioned that supply chain problems will constrain the ramp-up of production.

US carriers have cited these challenges, along with a labor crunch for airplane and air traffic personnel as another potential challenge to boosting capacity. -- Agence France-Presse