The Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific is pressing governments to replace quarantine requirements with testing and contact tracing protocols to ensure the sector’s survival amid a worsening situation for airports in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
It joins the international travel and tourism community which has been increasingly vocal and urgent in its call for sensible health and safety measures to facilitate the restart of travel and tourism.
The latest preliminary forecast figures show that airports in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East will lose 55 per cent and 60 per cent of passenger volume by the end of the 2020 respectively.
Prior to the pandemic, Asia-Pacific was set to welcome close to 3.5 billion passengers in 2020. The full year estimate amounts to just above 1.5 billion passengers, a reduction of around 1.9 billion passengers, compared to the pre-Covid-19, business-as-usual scenario.
The Middle East was set to welcome 420 million in 2020. Under the impact of the pandemic, Middle Eastern airports are expected to welcome 170 million passengers, a reduction of 250 million.
Airport revenues, a direct reflection of traffic, are forecasted to decline by approximately US$27 billion in the Asia-Pacific region and US$8 billion in the Middle East by the end of 2020.
“The latest ACI forecast depicts an ongoing uncertain picture for the airport sector. To put the revenue loss in perspective, it equates to wiping out the revenues of 27 of the regions’ busiest hubs. We are now facing at least a three-year recovery period,” said Stefano Baronci, director general, ACI Asia-Pacific.
The airport sector has implemented a raft of precautionary health and hygiene measures in anticipation of the restart of the sector. However, current government travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are severely hampering the restart and contributing to the worsening economic situation, noted ACI Asia-Pacific in its press statement.
“Governments should relax current travel restrictions and consider alternative safeguarding measures to ensure the survival of the aviation sector based on a periodically updated risk assessment. The recent announcement from the Government of Singapore replacing the 14-day quarantine with Covid-19 testing for all inbound passengers from some low risk countries is a first step in the right direction to support the economic recovery of the aviation ecosystem,” added Baronci.