The main trade group representing Asia-Pacific’s airports, Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific, said preliminary traffic data from 18 airports in major aviation markets in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East showed year-on-year passenger traffic fell by 95 percent by the middle of April as the world’s aviation business continues to crater due to the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
ACI said there were encouraging “initial signals of recovery” in China and South Korea and that airports globally have made “significant adjustments to operations to manage the impact” of the virus and have made “cautious preparations for resumption of services”, but there is no clear indication when aviation will be able to resume as nations around the world continue to keep their borders closed as a way to combat the spread of COVID-19.
- IATA coronavirus resource centre
- ICAO coronavirus resource centre
- Johns Hopkins University Virus Tracking Site
- Air Cargo COVID-19 Action Page
- IATA TACT COVID-19 Operational Impact Portal
- IATA Quick Reference for Ground Handling During COVID-19
- IATA Guidance on the Safe Carriage of Cargo in the Passenger Cabin
“Passenger traffic in Asia-Pacific region has reached rock bottom. Airports have been forced to make difficult operational decisions including full or partial closure of terminals and runways and reduction of front-line employees,” said Stefano Baronci, director general, ACI Asia-Pacific. “These drastic measures take time to reverse. Returning to full operational status will not happen overnight.”
ACI, as well as other organisations like the International Air Transport Association (IATA), have called on governments around the world to “coordinate” their efforts to restart the aviation industry. ACI said such coordination was necessary “so that airports can prepare the appropriate infrastructure, facilities and processes in support of health measures.”
“The freedom of movement will have to co-exist with the virus, until a vaccine against COVID-19 is available at a global scale,” Baronci added. “Airport operators will need to balance a safe travel experience for passengers with recovering connectivity to boost the economy. This cannot be done in isolation and requires the engagement of all aviation stakeholders.”
The resumption of the industry couldn’t come soon enough for some airports. Singapore’s Changi Airport handled 1.65 million passenger movements in March 2020, a decrease of 70.7 percent compared to the same period last year. Aircraft movements declined by 49.9 percent to 16,200 landings and take-offs, while airfreight throughput dropped 19.1 percent to 149,000 tonnes for the month. For the first quarter of the year, Changi Airport registered 11.0 million passenger movements, a decrease of 32.7 percent year-on-year. Aircraft movements declined 20.1 percent to 75,900 while airfreight throughput fell 8 percent to 453,000 tonnes.
The South China Morning Post reported Hong Kong International Airport, which handled 71.5 million passengers in 2019, is on course for a 99.5 percent erosion in passenger volumes in April, based on daily Immigration Department data of entries and exits through the airport. No transits are allowed through the airport and non-residents have not been permitted to enter Hong Kong since 25 March.
Up to 19 April, Hong Kong’s airport saw 19,454 people enter and exit via immigration control points. In April last year, that figure was 6.46 million. Meanwhile, Sydney Airport said the first 16 days of this month showed international passenger traffic had collapsed by 96.1 percent, while domestic volumes tumbled 97.4 percent.