ACI Asia-Pacific calls for support as region prepares to resume services
As airports across Asia-Pacific prepare to resume airport operations, ACI Asia-Pacific has called for support in approach to the post-COVID-19 period.
Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific has published preliminary passenger traffic data collected from 18 airports in major aviation markets across the Asia-Pacific and the Middle Eastern regions, outlining year-on-year passenger traffic decline.
By the middle of April 2020, passenger traffic hit a decrease of 95 per cent, compared to 2019, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Initial signs of recovery were reported from China – with a gradual resumption of its domestic traffic – and, though to a lesser extent, from South Korea. Airports have made significant adjustments to operations to manage the impact, as cautious preparations for resumption of services begin.
As airports prepare for the post-COVID-19 period, a coordinated approach between governments, regulators, health authorities and aviation stakeholders to implement sustainable and effective health measures is needed immediately.
Director General of ACI Asia-Pacific, Stefano Baronci, said: “Passenger traffic in the 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 a reduction of front-line employees. These drastic measures take time to reverse. Returning to full operational status will not happen overnight.”
With some signals of stabilisation and efforts towards recovery cautiously beginning, governments and regulators, as well as national health authorities, must work with the aviation industry to develop a coordinated approach in order to support airports in preparing the appropriate infrastructure, facilities and processes in support of health measures. At a global level, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have an important role to play in providing guidance and coordinating joint efforts between governments and industry.
Baronci continued: “The freedom of movement will have to co-exist with the virus, until a vaccine against COVID-19 is available at a global scale. 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 support of states is required to reset and rebuild the sector, given its strategic role for the relaunch of the economy and its social relevance, in terms of job creation. The virus has imposed a ‘new normal’ of living on us. A united industry needs to create a ‘new normal’ for travelling.”