COVID-19 airport recovery road map published by ACI World

ACI World has recommended six focused policy responses that should be implemented in order to support the airport industry’s recovery post-COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 recovery plan

The impact of COVID-19 on the airport sector has been overwhelmingly profound. Passenger traffic is expected to decline by almost 40 per cent, with revenue expected to contract by $77 billion in 2020. As a result, Airports Council International (ACI) World has announced the publication of a policy brief that outlines a road map for the airport industry’s recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The policy brief – titled ‘COVID-19: Relief Measures to Ensure the Survival of the Airport Industry’ – outlines exceptional measures to provide policy-makers with a comprehensive toolkit of solutions to ensure that the airport industry can be sustained through the coronavirus crisis and lay the foundation for recovery post pandemic.

In order to alleviate such an unprecedented impact, ACI World has issued the following six focused policy responses that should be implemented:

  1. Protection of airport charges and revenues – as airports will need to ensure the continuity of basic services, alleviating the collection of airport charges through suspension or blanket discounts is an ill-advised response
  2. Tax relief – urgent tax relief will provide much-needed financial support to airports to ensure continuity of operations and safeguard airport jobs
  3. Concession fee waiver – airport rents and concession fees should be waived or postponed in the form of a one-time measure for a defined period
  4. Temporary suspension of slot usage requirements – airport slot usage requirements should be suspended, at a global level, until 30 June 2020, with a reassessment of the situation based on data-driven evidence to follow
  5. Continuity of air cargo operations – airports should continue levying charges on air cargo operations to maintain essential airside and cargo facilities
  6. Comprehensive financial relief – this should include wage subsidy schemes to allow continued operations and a rapid return to full operations. Grants and subsidies, secured financing, loans at preferential rates and bank guarantees should be made available. Financial relief should be non-discriminatory and not benefit one actor at the expense of others in the aviation ecosystem.

Angela Gittens, ACI World Director General, said: “Airports are important engines of economic growth, wealth creation and employment, and the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the industry and broader economy has halted the airport industry at a global level. Passenger traffic has collapsed, but many airports are open for some scheduled operations, humanitarian and repatriation flights and cargo operations, and these activities continue to induce costs for airports.

“The millions of jobs provided by airport operators must be preserved and essential operation must be sustained in the most effective way to allow for these crucial operations to continue and for the foundation to be laid for a rapid recovery. The relief measures that have been put forward will ensure that financial assistance does not benefit one part of the industry over another in the aviation ecosystem so that a balanced, global recovery can be created,” concluded Gittens.

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