Industry body the Airports Council International Asia-Pacific says it is urging governments to replace quarantine requirements with testing and contact tracing protocols to ensure the sector’s survival amid a worsening situation for airports in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. Its latest preliminary forecast figures show that Asia-Pacific and Middle East airports will lose 55% and 60% passenger volume by the end of the 2020 respectively.
Prior to the pandemic, ACI’s predictions showed that Asia-Pacific was set to welcome close to 3.5 billion passengers in 2020. The full year estimate now amounts to just above 1.5 billion passengers, a reduction of around 1.9 billion passengers, compared with the pre-Covid-19, business-as-usual scenario. The Middle East airports were set to welcome 420 million in 2020 but are now expected to welcome 170 million passengers, a reduction of 250 million. Airport revenues, a direct reflection of traffic, are forecast to decline by approximately US$27bn in the Asia-Pacific region and US$8bn in the Middle East by the end of 2020.
“The latest ACI forecast depicts an ongoing uncertain picture for the airport sector,” said Stefano Baronci, director general of ACI Asia-Pacific. “To put the revenue loss into perspective, it equates to wiping out the revenues of 27 of the regions’ busiest hubs. We are now facing at least a three-year recovery period.”
The organization noted that the airport sector has implemented a raft of precautionary health and hygiene measures in anticipation of the restart of the sector, but that current government travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are severely hampering the restart and contributing to the worsening economic situation. ACI Asia-Pacific urges governments to no longer delay relaxing international travel restrictions by replacing quarantine requirements with testing and contact tracing protocols, at least between low-risk countries where the virus situation is well under control and the risk of importation is low.
“Governments should relax current travel restrictions and consider alternative safeguarding measures to ensure the survival of the aviation sector based on a periodically updated risk assessment. The recent announcement from the Government of Singapore replacing the 14-day quarantine with Covid-19 testing for all inbound passengers from some low-risk countries is a first step in the right direction to support the economic recovery of the aviation ecosystem,” added Baronci.