Press Releases

ACI World publishes year-end COVID-19 economic impact analysis

Signs of optimism but government assistance needed to support long term recovery

Pre-departure testing needed now as preparations for vaccine distribution continue

Montreal, 8 December 2020 – Airports Council International (ACI) World has published its fifth COVID-19 economic impact analysis revealing the devastating effect on the airport industry and the prospects for recovery.

The Advisory Bulletin, The impact of COVID-19 on the airport business, reveals the global airport industry will record a reduction of more than 6 billion passengers by the end of 2020 compared to the pre-COVID-19 forecast for 2020, representing a decline of -64.2% of global passenger traffic.

Europe and the Middle East are predicted to be the two most impacted regions – with declines above -70% compared to the projected baseline – while Asia-Pacific has embarked on recovery earlier and faster than other regions and is forecasted to close the year 2020 with a decline of -59.2%, which was driven by large domestic markets such as China. Asia-Pacific is the only region recording a decline below -60%.

The airport industry was expected to generate about $172 billion (all figures in US Dollars) this year but the COVID-19 crisis impact on airport revenues will result in a reduction of $111.8 billion (or -65% compared to the pre-COVID-19 forecast).

ACI World has developed scenarios exploring the potential recovery trajectory and, under the baseline scenario, domestic passenger traffic is expected to recover to 2019 levels by 2023 with the recovery of international passenger traffic following in 2024

“The pandemic has resulted in a full-scale transportation crisis with the aviation brought to a virtual halt in April following lockdowns imposed in many countries in the second half of March.” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.

“We are now seeing some positive signs and prospects are slightly better for recovery but there is still a long way to go. One thing is certain, the world will be different after this pandemic.

“Recent announcements of successful vaccine trials are offering hope for a sustained recovery, but vaccination campaigns will take time and the industry needs government assistance and policy support now to lay a solid foundation for recovery.

“A consistent approach to testing should be implemented now to promote travel and do away with restrictive quarantine measures with a coordinated and risk-based approach to combining testing and vaccination introduced going forward

“Tests and vaccines together will play a key role on the industry recovery, providing passengers with a safe travel environment and foster confidence in air travel.

ACI World also found that, in the long run, it is predicted that the global traffic may take up to two decades to return to previously projected traffic levels.

Notes for editors

  1. Read the full Economic Impact Analysis.
  2. Stay up to date with ACI World’s COVID-19 communications through its dedicated news hub.
  3. 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
Director, Communications
ACI World
Telephone: +1 514 373 1254