As airports throughout the world see reduced or suspended operations from airlines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, airports in the Asia/Pacific and the Middle East could could lose an estimated USD $36.4 billion for this year alone.

According to ACI, Airports Council International (ACI) airports in Asia and the Middle East are facing up to 59% and 53% in revenue losses respectively.

In addition, ACI also has made a forecast that Asia and the Middle East combined will see a sharp decline in passenger traffic for the whole year by around two billion passengers.

Based on data collected from 26 airports in the region, the change of weekly passenger traffic (year-to-year) has declined since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in January. The 26 airports the data was collected from account for around 26% of the passenger traffic in the region. 

From seeing a decline by 32% at the end of January, passenger traffic continued to decline by 50% at the start of March. By the end of April, passenger traffic decline reached 92%. The declines coincide with the growth of COVID-19 cases in the region.

Regarding the recovery of aviation traffic in the region, ACI Asia-Pacific Director eneral Stefano Baronci addressed signs of recovery in the Chinese domestic market and pointed to what we could see past the first quarter of 2020.

“We are observing moderate signs of recovery in China’s domestic traffic, which is encouraging. But we are entering the most critical stage of the year for our industry. We expect the second quarter of the year to be substantially more challenging than the first quarter, especially in countries with predominantly international traffic profiles. Rebuilding people’s confidence to travel again will take time” said Baronci.

ACI along with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for governments to provide additional relief packages for airports and the global aviation industry.

“With concrete data in hand for the rest of the year, it is evident that airports will struggle to survive. Governments in Asia Pacific and the Middle East need to do more. ACI Asia-Pacific encourages governments in both regions to look at other competitive markets, such as the US which has pledged US$10 billion in rescue funds to airports or Brazil which has allowed for the deferment of airport concession fee payments by airport operators until the end of the year.”

Based in Hong Kong,  ACI Asia-Pacific represents the Asian branch of Canada-based airport trade organization ACI. It reports a membership of 113 airport operators overseeing 602 airports in Asia and the Middle East.

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