Air traffic will probably be back to pre-coronavirus levels in 2.5 years.

KLM CEO Pieter Elbers expressed this expectation on Friday during an explanation of the quarterly figures.

He does not think that aviation has been definitively changed by the pandemic.

KLM received a huge blow at the start of the corona crisis.

Passenger numbers fell from 6.3 million in the first quarter of 2020 to 0.5 million in the following quarter.

Since then, passenger numbers have not gone beyond a quarter of the usual level each quarter.

According to some, that is an indication that the planes will never be as full as before the pandemic.

Elbers disagrees.

"I expect that by the end of 2023, or else in 2024, air traffic will be back to the old level."

He sees that the number of tourists within Europe is increasing considerably and that business travelers are also getting on a plane more often.

"In February this year we had a really bad period, with six thousand to seven thousand visitors a day. We now see days when we have 50,000 to 60,000 travelers on board. This puts us at 50 to 60 percent of the numbers before corona. "

According to Elbers, Schiphol was even the busiest airport in Europe in the first two weeks of July, partly due to KLM.

There are still many restrictions on long-distance travel, for example to China, Brazil and the United States.

But Elbers expects that air traffic to faraway places will also pick up sooner or later.

He bases this, among other things, on the fact that domestic traffic in the United States and China has risen sharply and that business travelers from the US are returning to Europe more often.

Although the company is optimistic about the future and financial chief Steven Zaat even spoke on Friday about making a profit in the current quarter, Elbers still talks about "a long road" that the company has to travel. "I am confident for the rest of the year, but there is still a lot of uncertainty," said the KLM CEO, referring to the capricious nature of the pandemic.