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ACI Europe revises traffic recovery projection to 2024

With only marginal traffic increases reported in June, a full recovery in passenger traffic to 2019 levels is now expected for 2024.

Traffic in Europe to take longer to recover

ACI EUROPE has reported that passenger traffic across the European airport network stood at a decrease of 93 per cent in June compared to the same period in 2019. Europe’s airports welcomed only 16.8 million passengers through their doors in June, compared to 240 million in the same month last year.

The European airport network saw daily passenger volumes increasing nearly threefold from 267,000 passengers on 1 June to 757,000 passengers on 30 June – still far from last year’s daily average of eight million in the same month.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE, said: “The recovery in passenger traffic is proceeding at a slower pace than we had hoped for. This was the case in June, and initial data for July also indicates we’re likely to recover only 19 per cent of last year’s traffic rather than the 30 per cent we had forecast. This is down to the still incomplete lifting of travel restrictions within the EU/Schengen area and the UK – as well as the permanence of travel bans for most other countries. The fact that EU and Schengen states have not yet managed to effectively coordinate and align their travel policies does not help, as it is not conducive to restoring confidence in travel and tourism in the middle of the peak summer season.”

ACI EUROPE has released a revised traffic forecast:

  • A full recovery in passenger traffic to 2019 levels is now expected for 2024, rather than 2023 as per the previous forecast
  • Europe’s airports are now set to lose 1.57 billion passengers in 2020, a decrease of 64 per cent compared to the previous year
  • Europe’s airports’ revenues are now set to decrease by €32.4 billion in 2020.

ACI EUROPE also warned that current traffic recovery patterns come with significant diseconomies of scale for airports.

With reinstated flights generally achieving low load factors, passenger volumes are trailing behind flight numbers. This is particularly impacting airports, as their operating costs are driven by aircraft movements while the bulk of revenue comes from passengers. This means that the current recovery pattern disproportionately increases costs relative to revenues. 

Jankovec commented: “The financial situation of airports is not significantly improving – with some even making more losses now compared to their situation prior to the restart. Considering that the peak summer season normally accounts for a large share of annual revenues and the fact that temporary unemployment schemes are coming to an end in many EU States – not to mention fierce airline pressure on airport charges – liquidity will remain an on-going concern through the winter. Many airports, especially smaller regional airports, will need financial relief. This requires looking beyond the current EC Temporary Framework on State aid which is ending next December.”

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