COVID-19: ACI World calls joins chorus of calls that virus is threat to aviation

Says two-fifths of passenger traffic and almost half of revenues wiped out in 2020; Swift, proportionate, and effective response from governments is urgently needed

Airports around the world are often nearly empty because of the virtual halt in international passenger traffic. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

The main trade group for the world’s airports said Wednesday (1 April) that the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the entire aviation ecosystem is predicted to wipe out two-fifths of passenger traffic and almost half of revenues for airports in 2020.

An economic bulletin published by Airports Council International World (ACI) has found that, at a global level, the COVID-19 pandemic will wipe out 38.1 percent of global passenger traffic, equivalent to 3.6 billion passengers in absolute terms. (Download the full economic bulletin here.)

The steep drop could cost the airport industry US$76 billion in lost revenue, a shortfall of about 45 percent from the US$172 billion the industry was expected to earn this year.

ACI World Director General Angela Gittens.

“A drastic decline of such magnitude for the global airport industry represents an existential threat,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “A swift, effective and equitable economic policy response from governments is needed to protect millions of jobs, protect essential operations, and give the industry the greatest chance to weather the storm and recover quickly. The global airport industry has faced multi-billion-dollar losses already in the first quarter of 2020, but it is now predicted that the impact of COVID-19 will extend not only to the second quarter of 2020 but also the second half of the year.”

Gittens said most experts agree any recovery may take a year to 18 months to reach pre-crisis traffic levels and the industry may not record pre-COVID-19 traffic volumes again before the end of 2021.

“A fair and equitable global economic policy response is required to safeguard essential airport operations, to protect millions of jobs worldwide, and to ensure the survival of the industry and lay the foundation for a fair recovery,” Gittens added.

Airports, like every other sector in the industry, are laying off employees, closing terminals and other facilities to cope with the crisis as airlines have grounded thousands of planes. ACI officials said they believe a faster recovery in domestic passenger traffic is possible. International passenger traffic, however, will take longer, because countries will have to agree to reopen their borders.

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Asian Aviation
Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.


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