ACI Asia-Pacific expects pre-pandemic passenger volumes to return by 2024

Posted: 2 February 2021 | | No comments yet

Volumes in the Asia-Pacific market are expected to return by approximately 2023, but the Middle East will take longer, and is expected to return to pre-COVID-19 levels by 2024.

The latest forecast from Airports Council International (ACI) has shown that the recovery path in the Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern regions will be slow and uncertain, with a diverse demand recovery pattern.

However, over the course of the next 20 years, the two regions will be the fastest-growing globally, according to the World Air Traffic Forecasts 2020-2040. Total passenger traffic is forecasted to grow fast at a compound growth rate of 5.2 per cent in the Middle East and 4.7 per cent in Asia-Pacific.    

Forecasted to close 2020 with a passenger traffic decline of about 58 per cent, Asia-Pacific airports are expected to return to the 2019 pre-COVID-19 passenger volume of approximately 3.4 billion passengers by 2023.

Forecasted to close 2020 with a passenger traffic decline of about 72 per cent, the Middle East, which served 405 million passengers in 2019, will take until 2024 to return to pre-COVID-19 passenger levels. 

The air freight segment will see a more positive recovery path. In 2019, Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern airports respectively handled 47 million and nine million tonnes of cargo throughput. Both regions are expected to return to 2019 pre-COVID-19 levels by 2022.  

“This forecast is based on the assumption that an effective vaccine is distributed in 2021, and that broader population vaccination is largely accomplished by early 2022. Limited vaccine supply and slow distribution combined with a prolonged economic downturn risks postponing the recovery of the whole region to 2024,” said Stefano Baronci, the Director General of ACI Asia-Pacific.  

Among the top 10 fastest-growing countries above 50 million passengers by compound growth rate from 2019 to 2040 are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran in the Middle East; and Indonesia, India, Vietnam, the Philippines and China in the Asia-Pacific region. 

“For the aviation industry to continue providing vital services and supporting the global vaccine distribution undertakings, ACI Asia-Pacific urges the inclusion of all aviation workers and airport staff as essential workers as part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation recommendations and national vaccination plans,” emphasised Baronci. 

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