10 Things To Expect From Aviation In 2022

We are less than a week till the new year begins. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a look at what we can expect from the aviation industry in 2022, especially after plenty of ups and downs this year.

MC-21 silhouette
We can expect plenty of new aircraft updates next year. Photo: Getty Images

Technological advances and the easing of restrictions will dictate the tone of the market for much of 2022. While there will still be challenging conditions, there is more optimism compared to this time last year.

Cargo will continue to boom

2020 and 2021 saw a significant rise in cargo activity amid new consumer habits backed by the e-commerce boost. The urgent need for medical supplies also fuelled the increase in operations. The rise is continuing into 2022. IATA reported that there was a 9.1% increase in air cargo demand in September. October then saw a 9.4% increase.

As a result of this pattern, airlines such as Qantas have recently been converting their aircraft into freighters. Moreover, there has been a plethora of orders for freighters such as the Boeing 777F and Airbus A350F.

The second coming of the superjumbo

Just when we thought it was out, it was pulled back in! At the end of this year, several airlines announced the return of the Airbus A380 to the skies. We can expect a fair number of units in the air by the time 2022 gets in full swing.

British Airways this month announced that it added three US A380 destinations for the summer. Additionally, Singapore Airlines is planning a notable increase in flights with the quadjet for the same period, with eight destinations on the cards, including a fifth freedom flight to New York JFK from Frankfurt.

Singapore Airlines, Airbus A380, Fifth Freedom
The A380 may have been down, but it’s not out just yet. Photo: Getty Images

New low-cost international offerings

There have been several low-cost startups emerging in recent years. The likes of PLAY and Norse Atlantic Airways have been making a name for themselves in Europe. With some experience under their belt, planned transatlantic expansions should be a seamless transition for the airlines. Those that have been slightly longer in the game will also be expanding their networks. For instance, French bee, which recently launched services to New York, will be heading to Los Angeles next spring.

There is also plenty of potential heading eastward with airlines looking to offer low-cost long-haul solutions. flypop is edging closer to deploying its A330s to India from the United Kingdom in order to cater to underserved markets.

The pandemic will continue to take its toll

Several governments continue to keep or reintroduce travel restrictions amid the rise of new variants. The global health crisis is far from over. In the long term, industry stakeholders will be keen to find a balanced approach. So, rather than outright border closures, vaccination and testing requirements will likely be the standard in many regions. One thing for sure is that face masks requirements will remain prevalent in most markets throughout the year.

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Long-haul narrowbody triumphs

This year saw the Boeing 737 firmly become a mainstay at airports after its return to the skies from the end of 2020. China has also laid the foundations to recertify the type, setting a strong platform for the type next year. On the Airbus side, the A321LR helped JetBlue inaugurate transatlantic service to the UK from New York this year. The model has also been performing well across the ocean with TAP Air Portugal.

Passengers are continuing to get used to traveling on a narrowbody on long distances. With a single-aisle option a more economical solution on certain routes, especially during periods of downtime due to restrictions, we can expect more international narrowbody services.

JetBlue A321LR Wide
There is now increased comfort in a narrowbody setting. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

New aircraft progressions

We will see breakthroughs with several aircraft under development. For instance, the A321XLR is expected to perform its maiden flight in 2022. Additionally, the MC-21 will be introduced in Russia.

We can also expect progress with the 777X program, which is expected to enter service in two years. Other new aircraft programs such as the A350F will also have major announcements.

A comeback for Boeing?

While Boeing witnessed the comeback of the 737 in different regions, it wasn’t the best year for the manufacturer. There were issues surrounding the 787 program, postponements to the 777X project, and delivery numbers falling significantly behind Airbus.

The 747 program will come to an end in 2022, paving the way for Boeing to concentrate on other projects or even start fresh on its much-speculated clean sheet design. The company seems confident with its current 777X schedule, and any update on the aircraft will see a boost in morale for the firm.

Sustainability priorities

This year was notably concentrated around sustainability. Airbus hosted a summit about the topic, and COP26 was heavily focused on the aviation industry’s role in climate initiatives.

While there has been a lot of talk about sustainability, we will see more action in 2022. Airlines will be utilizing sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) much more. Meanwhile, we can expect more firsts when it comes to electric and hydrogen solutions. eVTOL programs will be taking the next step to overhaul local networks this decade.

Airbus A350-1000
Sustainable aviation fuels are the initial focus when it comes to sustainable power. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

Domestic shakeups

The big four United States carriers have held a market share of over 80% in recent years. Forbes notes that this figure will drop to just 60% in 2022.  The likes of Breeze Airways and Avelo Airlines have gotten off to a strong start. Meanwhile, the more experienced players such as Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, and Allegiant will continue to take advantage of the new domestic focus in the US to grab a greater market share.

Better finances

At the end of this year, global powerhouses have been announcing that they are making progress on their exits from bankruptcy. For instance, LATAM filed a restructuring plan in November. Furthermore, Avianca exited Chapter 11 protection this month. Numerous airlines also recently reported profits for the first time since the pandemic began.

With the hope that society will be better adapted to the conditions of the health crisis by the time 2022 is over, those that have battled with long-term financial difficulties, such as Air India, with its new ownership, and South African Airways, will be looking to overturn their fortunes.

Altogether, even though 2021 was a tough year for aviation by usual standards, there was significant progress compared to 2020. The industry will be hoping for far more frequencies, passengers, and profits by the time the next year is over.

What do you expect for the aviation industry in 2022? Let us know what you think in the comment section.