Some 4.7 billion fewer passengers are projected to travel by this year-end, representing a decline of 47.5 per cent in global passenger traffic, according to a report by Airports Council International (ACI) World.
This is estimated to equate to a loss in revenue of more than US$94 billion this year, which is half of the projected baseline.
The analysis was published in the Advisory Bulletin: The impact of Covid-19 on the airport business and path to recovery.
As prospects for a recovery in 2021 begin to emerge, ACI World estimates that different regions of the world will recover at different rates. At country level, markets having significant domestic traffic are expected to recover in 2023 to pre-Covid-19 levels, while markets with a significant share of international traffic are unlikely to return to 2019 levels until 2024 or even 2025 in some cases.
ACI World has said an interoperable health data trust framework to facilitate safe border reopening and cross-border travel must be established to support this recovery. ACI added that it supports any system which will allow testing and vaccination data to be shared consistently, effectively, and in a way that protects the personal data of those that use it.
“The world is embarking on the biggest vaccination campaign in history, and we see positive indications in countries with high rates of vaccination and ACI World has discerned an escalation of these encouraging signs and prospects for recovery with a surge in travel in the second half of 2021 expected,” ACI World director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.
“Despite this, Covid-19 remains an existential crisis for airports, airlines and their commercial partners and we need support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can fuel the global economic recovery.
“We hope an upsurge in confidence in air travel provided by vaccination and safety measures should result in the number of people travelling outside of their countries will start this spring and significantly increase by mid-year.
“Aviation recovery will not take-off, however, without a coordinated and globally-consistent approach to vaccination and testing, coupled with a safe and interoperable methods of sharing testing and vaccination information.”
With regards to economic impact, as a consequence of uncoordinated travel restrictions combined with small domestic markets, Europe is forecast to remain the most affected region in absolute terms with an estimated drop in revenues of more than US$37.5 billion for the full year 2021 compared to 2019.
In relative terms, the Middle East and Europe are forecast to suffer the biggest hits with decreases of 58.9 per cent and 58.1 per cent, respectively. Asia-Pacific is the region with comparatively the least impact, but it is still expected to experience a very significant decrease of 40.3 per cent against the projected baseline.