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Unprecedented Decrease in Global Passenger Traffic: ACI

By Alicia Arizpe | Tue, 07/07/2020 - 13:13

The Airports Council International (ACI) association joined its voice to other representatives of the aviation industry to call on governments to support the industry during these troubled times. The global crisis caused by the spread of COVID-19 has hit the aviation industry particularly hard. Border closures and shelter-in-place policies caused sharp drops in passenger traffic as early as March but the problem worsened as the virus continued spreading unimpeded. Industry associations had previously identified a sharp drop in air travel earlier in the year and now the only global trade representative of airports reports that passenger traffic in airports all over the world plunged to unprecedented lows in April. ACI informs that traffic fell by 94.4 percent year-on-year that month as the world grappled with the COVID-19 outbreak. The drop in traffic was more pronounced in international travel, which fell by 98.9 percent, while domestic traffic fell by 90.7 percent that month. Altogether, passenger traffic during the first four months of the year fell by 41.8 percent and the association expects that it will continue to decline in the following months.

“April was devastating for the aviation industry as global air travel almost came to a complete halt as national governments made unilateral decisions to implement strict confinement measures in the second week of the month to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, heavily affecting the movement of passengers,” said Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of ACI World. All regions in the world suffered from shocking drops in international traffic. The sharpest drop occurred in Africa, which reported a 99.2 percent decrease, followed by Asia Pacific and Europe falling 99 percent each, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East both fell by 98.4 percent and North America 98.2 percent.

Domestic traffic fared only slightly better. Africa again took the sharpest hit with a 97.9 percent fall, followed by Europe with a 96.4 percent drop, North America with 95 percent, Latin America and the Caribbean with 94.6 percent and Asia Pacific with 81 percent. There is no information reported for domestic traffic in the Middle East.

Mexican airports have been suffering from the drought in passenger traffic since March. While April was also a rough month for local airports, the most recent data reported by Mexican airport groups shows smaller year-on-year falls in passenger traffic.

ACI joined its voice to other industry associations calling for support from local governments to weather the crisis hitting the aviation industry. “Airports continue to face high fixed costs, rising costs related to health measures at airports and the challenge of creeping increases in the cost of capital. ACI World believes government assistance is needed to address these costs, to help safeguard essential operations and protect millions of jobs,” said de Oliveira.

Alicia Arizpe Alicia Arizpe Senior Writer