Editor’s Note — Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news about destinations opening, inspiration for future adventures, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.(CNN) — The past 12 months have been an unpredictable time for airlines, with multiple global issues impacting the aviation industry, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine resulting in overflight bans, the removal of most travel restrictions, China ending inbound quarantine, Boeing’s 737 MAX delivery catch ups, and more questions about the future of two new versions of the 737 MAX.
The year ahead looks more promising, though uncertainty is still massive.
IATA, the trade association for most airlines worldwide expects airlines to return to profitability in 2023 after a loss making 2022, mostly the result of a Covid-19 shutdown hangover, but also the rise in fuel prices.
And long-awaited new airplanes could also be taking to the skies, helping usher in the next era of commercial aviation.
Risks remain though. Wars, global and regional recessions, Covid resurgence, changed travel patterns, the climate crisis, and many other factors are outside aviation’s control.
Here’s what all of that means for travelers in 2023.
Remapping the sky
Virgin Atlantic is expected to join the SkyTeam alliance in 2023.
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images/FILE
Covid-19 has marked the last three years of all our lives, and will continue to do so — but, in most cases, that won’t include travel restrictions.
When Japan opened its doors to overseas travelers in fall 2022, it was the last major non-Chinese economy to do so.
In most ways that matter to airlines and their passengers, the world is now open. The big question almost everywhere — when China’s quarantine and other travel restrictions will end — has finally been answered. The country announced an easing of travel restrictions from January 8.
Another big question is Russia. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Russian airlines were banned from many countries’ airspace, including the EU, US, and Canada, and vice versa.
Outside of the conflict zone, the biggest effect of this has been to flights between Europe and east Asia, which must either fly south of the conflict zone and over the Caucasus or north over Alaska. As a result, many European and Asian airlines cut their services.
What this means is that there are fewer flights between Europe and Asia, and quite a lot of European and Asian airlines with aircraft that they were planning to use on those routes, and they’re now looking to see where else they might fly them.
New routes between North America and Europe are already taking flight, with the big three transatlantic joint venture airline cartels — corresponding roughly to the Oneworld, Star Alliance and SkyTeam alliances, and which have been allowed to coordinate pricing between their members — adding many new routes and beefing up existing services.
So if you see a new nonstop flight open up, it could be worth jumping on the opportunity. If European airlines …….