Issue No. 834

A Patchwork Recovery

Airline Leaders Are Optimistic About Next Year, but Hope Varies by Region

Pushing Back: Inside the Issue

Last week's IATA Annual General Meeting was a celebratory ball, of sorts, as airline leaders gathered together en masse for the first time since they did so in 2019, in Seoul. The tone of the meeting was excitement, as executives start to see the climb out from the pandemic beginning in earnest next year, barring any new variants of the coronavirus or fresh outbreaks of Covid-19. Vaccines are key to this recovery, but that raises another vexing question. Vaccine inequity plagues many parts of the world. RwandAir's CEO points to this inequity for why African carriers don't have the luxury of vaccine mandates.

And when airlines emerge from the crisis, what will the market look like? Will lucrative business travel be back as it was in 2019? Emirates' Tim Clark says it will; Avianca's Adrian Neuhauser is planning for half of all business travel to disappear. Maybe the truth is in the middle: Southwest's Gary Kelly says about 20 percent of business travel may never return. The plain truth is no one knows but everyone has a guess. But one thing no one has to guess about is the enduring and growing strength of leisure and VFR demand.

Elsewhere in this issue, what's old is new again, as the Tata Group won its bid for Air India, an airline it founded in 1932. This marks the end of a years-long privatization saga, and raises the question of how the Tata Group will trim the fat on a creaky and bloated state-owned airline. Airlines engaged in a flurry of aircraft orders, signaling that they think the recovery is near. And cargo continues its strength with lessor Avolon making a commitment for A330 freighters.

The Airline Weekly Lounge Podcast

This week in the Lounge, Ned and Madhu discuss who's right: Emirates' Tim Clark, who says business travel will return next year; or Avianca's Adrian Neushauser, who says half of all business travel is gone forever. Is IATA pinning too much hope on sustainable aviation fuels? Find out in this week's episode. A new episode of the Lounge drops every week, and you can find the full archive here.

Weekly Skies

The Tata Group, an Indian multinational conglomerate, won its bid to buy state-owned Air India, bringing the flag carrier back to the company that founded it in 1932. The deal is worth 180 billion rupees ($2.4 billion).

Landing Strip

Los Angeles International Airport's board has approved a $6 billion expansion plan that would allow the U.S.'s second-busiest airport to catch up with passenger growth and prepare it for 2028 Olympic Games.

Routes and Networks

Transatlantic demand is back "baby," as Austin Powers would have put it. In the latest sign of a robust return of the market since the U.S. said it would ease restrictions for vaccinated travelers, British Airways unveiled plans to reintroduce…


Barely a month after its first order for the Airbus A321neo, UK leisure-carrier is back for more. The airline has ordered another 15 aircraft that brings its firm commitments for the A321neo to 51 planes plus another 24 options.…

Feature Story

If there was one take away from the IATA Annual General Meeting in Boston last week, it was excitement. That is, excitement among the attendees to be back on the road, meeting in person once again after more than a…