Press Releases

ACI’s World Airport Traffic Report brings home how far airport traffic has fallen

New 2020 data also shows world’s busiest airports suffered dramatic declines

Montreal, 8 October 2020 – Airports Council International (ACI World) has today published its World Airport Traffic Report (WATR) along with data showing the dramatic and catastrophic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on passenger traffic.

According to the report, passenger numbers are estimated to have surpassed 9.1 billion in 2019, an increase of +3.5% compared to 2018, illustrating a healthy aviation industry before the catastrophic impact of the current pandemic.

Last year marked the end of a decade of consistent growth in global passenger traffic before the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has brought airports around the world to a virtual standstill, resulting in airport traffic and revenue losses across all regions.

For the first half of 2020, worldwide airport passenger numbers decreased by -58.4% compared to the same period in 2019, with international passenger traffic hit the hardest, recording a -64.5% drop. Overall aircraft movements declined by -41.6% while total cargo volumes handled by airports decreased by -12.4%, for the same period.

Top 10 rankings for 2019 (Passenger Traffic) with the effect of the pandemic the first half of 2020

While Atlanta and Beijing held the top two places as the world’s busiest airports, and Los Angeles crept up one spot to take third in 2019, initial half year 2020 data shows that these airports have suffered declines of -56.6%, -73.6% and -58.9% respectively, representing the sharpest decline in the industry’s history.

“From a period of sustained global growth in 2019, the aviation industry now faces the worst crisis we have ever confronted with huge declines in passenger traffic and revenues due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.

“Aviation – and airports as a key focal point of the industry – will be a key driver of the global economic recovery from COVID-19 and governments need to provide assistance and coordination to help safeguard jobs, protect essential operations, and provide sensible policies to facilitate the return of air connectivity.

“We are positive about the future, but we need consistency and collaboration across the globe on key issues like testing. The industry is united in the view that widespread testing of passengers before travel, as an alternative to quarantine restrictions, will be a crucial way to foster public confidence in air travel and must be introduced.

“As we begin the long and difficult journey back to the levels of success seen in 2019, we need to work together across the industry and hand in hand with ICAO and international health organisations to develop a global approach to testing that will help establish consistent and workable procedures. This is the way.”

ACI’s WATR is the authoritative source and industry reference for airport traffic trends and rankings including data from 2,565 airports in more than 180 countries worldwide. This year’s report contains the most comprehensive data ever collected by ACI World.

In 2019, airport traffic in emerging markets and developing economies grew slightly faster (+3.9%) than in advanced economies (+3.1%). Africa (+6.0%) and Latin America-Caribbean (+4.4%) posted strong growth of all regions in passenger traffic.

In addition, the world’s airports handled 119.9 million metric tonnes of cargo, a decrease of -2.2% compared to 2018. Advanced economies held the largest proportion (60.8%) of global cargo traffic handling 73 million metric tonnes in 2019. Globally, airports also handled more than 102 million aircraft movements, an increase of +1.7% year-over-year.

Top ten rankings for 2019 (Cargo Traffic) with the effect of the pandemic in the first half of 2020

Notes for editors

1. View the Top ten rankings for 2019 (Passenger Traffic) with the effect of the pandemic in the first half of 2020.

2. View the Top ten rankings for 2019 (Cargo Traffic) with the effect of the pandemic in the first half of 2020.

3. The 2020 ACI World Airport Traffic Report offers a detailed assessment of the world’s key aviation market segments and their contribution to growth through an economic lens in both emerging and advanced economies for the year 2019. The report also offers a preview of the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and aviation markets for the first half of 2020. An analysis of the effects of previous shocks that impacted the industry is also provided, highlighting the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. ACI continues to deliver the most comprehensive airport traffic data, rankings, and analysis, providing to our members and readership a global view of the industry. The ACI World Airport Traffic Report remains the industry reference for data-driven decision-making.

4. View the Key Statistics document.

5. Stay up to date with ACI World’s COVID-19 communications through its dedicated news hub.

6. Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization. In representing the best interests of airports during key phases of policy development, ACI makes a significant contribution toward ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, customer-centric and environmentally sustainable. As of January 2020, ACI serves 668 members, operating 1979 airports in 176 countries.

Media contacts

Anita Berthier
Manager, External Relations and Special Events
ACI World
Telephone: +1 514 373 1254