INTERNATIONAL. Airports Council International (ACI) World today published its preliminary world airport traffic rankings for 2020, with Guangzhou Bai Yun International the world’s busiest for total passenger volumes at 43.8 million. Seven of the top ten airports for passenger traffic were in China with three in the USA.
Global passenger traffic at the world’s top ten busiest airports decreased by -45.7% in 2020. Overall, passenger traffic at the world’s airports decreased by -64.6% which ACI said shows that the impact of the pandemic and the early stages of recovery in air travel has not been uniform around the world.
ACI noted that domestic air travel is beginning a modest rebound while international air travel remains depressed because of travel restrictions. Driven by China domestic travel, Hongqiao International Airport moved from 46th position in 2019 to ninth in 2020.
“The impact of the COVID-19 on global passenger traffic pandemic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face an existential threat,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said. “The data published today reveals the challenge airports continue to face and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.
“The findings show that the impact remains uneven with different regions experiencing different challenges and requiring different policy decisions and support from governments to lay the foundation for recovery. With some positive signs of recovery, especially in countries with high rates of vaccination, a sustained global recovery will only be realised with an escalation of vaccination campaigns, the continued development of digital health passes, and coordinated and cohesive policy support from governments.”
For airports, revenues are tightly correlated to traffic levels but, like other capital-intensive businesses, a large proportion of airport costs remain largely fixed and do not fall at the same level as traffic throughput and revenues during the crisis, said ACI. Even with reduced operations, the closure of terminals and staff layoffs, this imbalance remains, it added.
“There is no denying the current economic realities and the financial shortfall they create,” de Oliveira said. “Airports are economic generators, bringing socio-economic benefits and jobs to the communities they serve, and governments need to provide the necessary financial alleviation and assistance to suit local circumstances.
“Airport operators also continue to work closely with their airline partners and other stakeholders balancing the current market realities with the cost of providing the infrastructure as they navigate the crisis together.”
Original source - The Moodie Davitt Report