The Missing Five Billion

Airports Council International (ACI) recently revealed that the airport industry is anticipating global passenger numbers to decrease by -5.6 billion this year, along with an unprecedented $104.5 billion reduction in revenue. To reiterate, it’s estimated that there will be Five billion less passengers this year than last year. The missing five billion passengers will continue to wreak havoc on the travel sector for at least the rest of this year.

The recovery of aviation will fuel the global economic recovery and the Policy Brief: Path to the airport industry recovery—Restoring a sustainable economic equilibrium puts forward policy and assistance proposals that governments can adopt to both accelerate the global industry restart and ensure a sustained long-term recovery.

The Policy Brief urges governments to alleviate travel restrictions—as soon as recommended by national and international health authorities—and to conduct a proper cost-benefit analysis to decide whether to continue levying passenger-based taxes or if higher national income could be generated from the additional economic activity arising from aviation.

Governments are also urged to support the financial viability of the industry through direct financial support that benefits the entire aviation ecosystem—airports, airlines and their commercial partners—to protect essential operations and jobs. Additionally, and in accordance with World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Regulations, ACI believes costs related to public health measures aimed at mitigating the spread of communicable diseases should be borne by national governments.

“As the airport sector, as an integral part of the global aviation ecosystem, has been among the industries most affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic and is confronted by a crisis of liquidity and existential uncertainty, financial support is urgently needed to support industry restart and protect essential operations” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.

“An efficient aviation industry is a key driver of economic and social development and the recovery of air transport, therefore, is indispensable to the recovery of the global economy. Airports generate 60% of direct employment in the aviation sector.

“Airports are major supporters of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 8, 9 and 10 concerning work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, and reduced inequalities. Airports and aviation support other goals, such as reducing poverty, facilitating access to quality education, promoting gender equality, building sustainable cities and communities, and partnering for the goals with other industries.

“Unprecedent times require unprecedent measures, and timely and appropriate government action that will facilitate the recovery of the entire industry with coordinated and targeted assistance and policy support is urgently needed.”