Airports Council International (ACI) World has published an Advisory Bulletin on the predicted global economic impact on the airports sector of the unfolding COVID-19 public health emergency.
As the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have published a joint statement providing updated advice on COVID-19 and civil aviation, ACI World has predicted the economic impact of the outbreak on the global airport industry will be pronounced.
At the global level, ACI estimates that airport passenger traffic volume for the first quarter of 2020 will be down at least 12 percentage points compared with original projections.
Asia-Pacific is the most affected region, with passenger traffic volumes down 24 percentage points compared with previous business-as-usual forecasts for the first quarter of 2020. Europe and the Middle East are also expected to be significantly affected. North America is forecast to see similar declines in the second quarter of 2020.
This effect on passenger numbers and flight cancellations will result in reduced revenues from airport charges – while aeronautical revenues are being challenged in this way, the cost base for airport charges remains unchanged, airports having substantial fixed costs.
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, global airport revenues for the first quarter of 2020 were forecast to reach close to US$39.5bn. ACI now estimates a loss of revenues of at least US$4.3bn. Most of the loss in revenues is expected to occur in the Asia-Pacific region, with a difference of US$3bn in projected revenue. This is approximately equal to the total annual revenues of two major European or Asian hubs combined. Europe is the second-worst hit region.
ACI World is also urging a proportionate slot allocation response to COVID-19 that will preserve global airport connectivity.
“The airport industry recognizes that all stakeholders of the aviation ecosystem are heavily impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, and that strengthened cooperation between airports, airlines, and regulatory authorities is needed as the industry responds to the outbreak,” ACI World director general Angela Gittens said.
“Airports rely heavily on airport charges to fund their operating and capital costs, and operators find themselves under intense pressure during periods of traffic decline. Airport revenues must be sufficiently protected to ensure safe and sustainable operations. Measures to limit the collection of airport charges would be ill-advised,” she concluded.
The advisory bulletin can be read in full here.