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COVID-19: ACI calls for exceptional policy for sustainability of airport operations

COVID19

As the world suffers the impacts of coronavirus COVID-19, socially and economically, Airports Council International (ACI) has called on policy makers globally to come out with an exceptional policy response to ensure the continuity and sustainability of airport operations.

COVID19

ACI made the call in Montreal, Canada after its monthly global traffic statistics for January 2020, showed the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak had a rapid effect on passenger traffic, particularly in Asia-Pacific.

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Global passenger traffic grew by just +1.9 per cent in January 2020, down from +4.9 per cent a month prior. The industry’s 12-month rolling average reached +2.9 per cent, temporarily propped up by the middling growth observed in 2019.

The Asia-Pacific region was already showing the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis in January, declining by -1.8 per cent due to a significant shift in domestic traffic (-3.6%).

Results for the freight industry showed a decline by -4.4 per cent for the month as compared to January 2019. Preliminary figures for 2019 show a decline of -2.5 per cent for the year. We can expect that the disruptions in supply chains and the shock to the global economy precipitated by the reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic will cause an even greater decline in. The market’s 12-month rolling average stood at -3 per cent in January, with an unprecedented and difficult period ahead.

“These figures show that the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on aviation was rapid, especially in the Asia-Pacific region,” ACI World Director General, Angela Gittens said.

“The aviation industry is facing unprecedented upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation calls for an exceptional policy response to ensure the continuity and sustainability of airport operations.

“Airport operators are prioritising the health of passengers and staff first and foremost and, while it is hoped that the global health crisis will recede well before the year ends, it is possible that the economic impact could persist into 2021.

“The financial cost to the global industry in 2020 is rapidly growing. This is a fast-moving and ever-changing crisis and governments must act decisively and quickly.

“ACI World urges the aviation industry and Governments to come together to ensure the impact is borne equitably and solutions are fair and reasonable so as to provide the greatest impetus for a swift and balanced recovery.”

ACI collects and analyses data from a significant sample of airports that provide regular reports on month-by-month passenger and air freight statistics; this forms part of the world’s most comprehensive source for airport data.

Passenger traffic

Total international passenger traffic continued to increase moderately in January, reaching +2.7 per cent, against a 12-month rolling average of +3.8 per cent. Domestic traffic, particularly affected by the downturn in Asia-Pacific (-3.6%) and Europe (-1.5%) but supported by North America’s strong domestic market (+4.8%), only gained +1.3 per cent against 2019’s results. This was against a 12-month rolling average of +2.3 per cent.

Of the major regional markets, North America performed the best in January, gaining +4.1 per cent on the strength of its domestic segment (+4.8%). Europe, despite suffering a downtrend in domestic traffic, posted +2.2 per cent. Asia-Pacific was already showing the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis during the period, declining by -1.8 per cent due to a significant shift in domestic traffic (-3.6%). Up to January, passenger traffic in the Middle East had yet to show the impacts of the global health crisis. The region posted +7.7 per cent which was above its 12-month rolling average. The downtrend should start showing in the Middle East in February.

The 12-month rolling averages followed the same general pattern in other regions, with North America at +3.5 per cent, Europe at +3.1 per cent, and Asia-Pacific at +1.7 per cent.

Passenger traffic in Africa posted +8.4 per cent which was above its 12-month rolling average. Gains could continue in Africa until March’s figures are posted.

Despite a fairly strong performance in its domestic segment (+5.4%), Latin America-Caribbean was dragged down by a slowing international market – the only negative international market results up to this point. The region posted, +3 per cent for the month of January, down from its 12-month rolling average of +3.7 per cent.

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Chukwuemeke Iwelunmo

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