Covid-19 “an existential crisis” for aviation, ACI World claims

posted on 29th March 2021 by Eddie Saunders
Covid-19 “an existential crisis” for aviation, ACI World claims

By Edward Robertson

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic remains “an existential crisis for airports, airlines and their commercial partners”, the Airports Council International (ACI) World has warned.

New analysis published in ACI’s Advisory Bulletin: The impact of Covid-19 on the airport business and path to recovery shows that 4.7 billion fewer customers will take to the skies in 2021, a 47.5 per cent decline on the projected baseline.

This amounts to a reduction in revenues of $94 billion, again about half of what had originally been predicted for this year.

And while vaccinations might give some cause for hope in ending the Covid-19 pandemic, ACI World director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira said without a proper framework agreed to open up international borders, then any recovery could be slowed by a lack of support.

This means countries which have a significant share of international traffic are unlikely to return to 2019 levels until 2024 at the earliest.

De Oliveira said: “The world is embarking on the biggest vaccination campaign in history, and we see positive indications in countries with high rates of vaccination and ACI World has discerned an escalation of these encouraging signs and prospects for recovery with a surge in travel in the second half of 2021 expected.

“Despite this, Covid-19 remains an existential crisis for airports, airlines and their commercial partners and we need support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can fuel the global economic recovery.

“We hope an upsurge in confidence in air travel provided by vaccination and safety measures should result in the number of people travelling outside of their countries will start this spring and significantly increase by mid-year.

“Aviation recovery will not take-off, however, without a coordinated and globally-consistent approach to vaccination and testing, coupled with safe and interoperable methods of sharing testing and vaccination information.”

The report also notes that regionally, Asia-Pacific is the region facing the least impact to its revenues in 2021, although with this expected to be a 40.3 per cent less than previously predicted, the decline remains considerable.

Certainly the newly-released spring edition of ARGS – Airline Routes and Ground Services, reflects many of the problems anticipated by the ACI report.

Exclusive data provided by OAG shows that China, where the Covid-19 pandemic started, is facing a long recovery when it comes to resumption of flights with June 2021’s scheduled seats prediction still around a third less than pre-Covid levels.

Across the wider Asia-Pacific region, de Oliveira’s concerns are being further borne out, particularly when it comes to Australia and New Zealand where hopes of flights between the two countries being opened up as part of a bubble are looking increasingly unlikely.

As for the rest of the world, easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, Emirates president Sir Tim Clark and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby have all expressed their concerns that the aviation sector still has a long way to go to survive the current crisis.

Of course, all these stories and many more can be found in the spring edition of ARGS – Airline Routes and Ground Services.