ACI data reveals that COVID-19 will continue to weaken aviation recovery
ACI World has revealed data showing how the ongoing impact of COVID-19 is predicted to weaken the aviation recovery momentum, with passenger traffic remaining lower than forecasted.
New Airports Council International (ACI) World data shows that the lasting adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is forecast to remove an additional 5.2 billion passengers by the end of this year (2021) compared to the pre-COVID-19 forecast for 2021.
Despite recent positive news of certain markets re-opening their borders, global passenger traffic in 2021 is still expected to reach only half of what it was in 2019, with total traffic for 2021 forecast to be only 4.6 billion of the 9.2 billion passengers served two years ago. Domestic passenger traffic continues to recover faster than the international market expecting to reach more than 3.1 billion passengers by the end of 2021, a level corresponding to 58.5 per cent of that achieved in 2019.
Linked to traffic reductions, ACI World estimates that the world’s airports are expected to lose more than $111 billion in revenues in 2021, $3 billion more than projected in the previous assessment of July 2021.
While the new data worsens the expected annual financial performance of the world’s airports, especially for the fourth quarter of 2021, ACI still expects each quarter of 2021 to show an improvement compared to the previous one. Compared to the pre-COVID-19 forecast for 2021, the quarterly revenue shortfall is projected to improve from a 69.9 per cent decline in the first quarter to a 47.4 per cent decrease in the fourth quarter.
“The speed of the recovery continues to depend substantially on several stakeholders and the level of coordination pursued by national governments worldwide,” said General Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI World Director. “While the global travel market is still mostly depressed, more and more countries are moving towards the gradual reopening of their borders to vaccinated travellers. Despite a delayed recovery as compared to earlier forecasts, this trend brings a renewed optimism that air travel could see an uptick in 2022, moving the industry closer to recovery. We hope that the imminent easing of travel restrictions in the U.S. will pave the way for other countries to safely reopen their borders.
“ACI World continues to advocate the importance of a pragmatic and risk-based approach to managing the sustainable recovery of the aviation industry as it prepares for a return of air traffic demand. Government action to promote safe travel, including a coordinated and risk-based approach to testing and vaccination, is critical, rather than governments enforcing full-scale restrictions and blanket measures.”
New projections likewise reveal that the COVID-19 crisis is expected to remove more than 3.6 billion passengers for 2022, representing a 28.3 per cent decrease from 2019 levels. Similarly, the impact of the pandemic is expected to reduce airport revenues in 2022 by an additional $78.6 billion, or by 29.3 per cent, compared to 2019. However, it is expected that like 2021, each quarter of 2022 will see an improvement over the previous one.
ACI World will soon release the 2021 Annual World Airport Traffic Report, which provides a detailed review of 2020 operating and airport traffic trends as well as an analysis of 2021 in the world’s major aviation markets. This flagship ACI publication provides airport passenger, cargo, and aircraft traffic data; rankings; and trends for over 2,600 airports in more than 180 countries and territories worldwide.