Europe’s airports are “confronted with an unprecedented financial crisis” as a result of the coronavirus crisis
European airports are facing an unprecedented financial crisis as a result of the outbreak of the corona virus on the continent.
The Airports Council International, the global trade representative of the world’s airport authorities, said European airports are facing a “full crisis” and have called on governments to only issue travel bans as a last resort.
“For the time being, airports in Italy have clearly been the hardest hit,” said Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe.
Jankovec added that prior to Italy’s decision to quarantine the country yesterday, Italian airports had already seen 60 percent less passenger traffic due to a “loss of confidence, changes in corporate travel policies and government measures.”
Beyond Italy, airlines are “drastically reducing capacity and canceling air services” in response to a weakening demand, the authority said.
On Sunday, people wait aboard an airplane at a departure gate at Leonardo da Vinci International Airport in Rome. Flights still leave from Rome to Australia on Tuesday despite Italy being put in lockdown due to the corona virus
An airplane passenger wearing a face mask arrives at Gatwick Airport on Monday while the outbreaks of corona virus continue to spread throughout the world
Passengers at Malpensa Airport, near Milan, are waiting for their flight after British Airways said it is still flying passengers to and from Italy
“But what are they [European airports] are now bracing themselves for a total collapse of air connectivity and the prospect of losing most of their revenues, “he said.
Referring to World Health Organization recommendations, the ACI requests that governments consider only travel bans and measures that interfere with air links as a last resort and reopen airports as quickly as possible.
The degree of corona virus disruption of airlines was initially limited to services flying to Asia. ACI is concerned that the damage to industry will increase as the virus spreads.
Although the absolute priority for airports is the protection of passengers and staff, this situation represents a unique set of operational and financial challenges, the authority said.
They added that airports must remain fully operational and that air connections must be maintained in times of health crises.
A medical officer with protective equipment walks on an airplane as he measures the body temperature of passengers arriving on a flight from New York City as a preventative measure against the corona virus (COVID-19) at the Boryspil International Airport outside of Kiev, Ukraine.
Passengers wearing protective face masks are seen in Malpensa airport near Milan, Italy
An officer uses a thermal scanner at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport after Indonesia has confirmed new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, taken today in this photo by Antara Photo
To face the crisis, a cooperation approach between airports, airlines and governments and the EU is of the utmost importance, both now and as the situation evolves, the ACI said.
ACI’s global outlook predicts that the economic impact of the outbreak on the global airport industry will be significant, with estimates of a 12 percent reduction in passenger traffic.
A statement from ACI World said: “Asia-Pacific is the region most affected with a passenger volume of 24 percentage points compared to previous business forecasts for the first quarter of 2020.
“Europe and the Middle East are also expected to be significantly affected by less traffic.
“North America is expected to see similar declines in the second quarter of 2020 with recent service reductions announced in North America last week and with more expected in the coming weeks.”
This translates into a loss of around £ 2.2 billion for airports around the world.
This is approximately equal to the total annual turnover of two major European or Asian hubs combined. Europe is the second most affected region, while all other regions will see the impact of passenger loss as more data becomes available.
A Cathay Pacific employee wearing a face mask as a preventative measure against the COVID-19 corona virus today stands next to a row of self-check in terminals at Chek Lap Kok International Airport in Hong Kong
A passenger wearing a protective face mask amid worries about the corona virus is walking at Linate airport in Milan
A video screen grip shows employees in protective suits at Terminal F, obliged to check passengers arriving from China, Italy, South Korea and Iran, to ask them to complete special forms and to have their temperature measured upon arrival at Sheremetyevo International Airport, Russia today
“The airport industry recognizes that all stakeholders of the aviation ecosystem are being hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak and that enhanced cooperation between airports, airlines and regulatory authorities is needed because the industry responds to the outbreak,” ACI World Director General Angela Zei Gittens .
“The sudden shock caused by the COVID-19 outbreak has a global impact on passenger and freight traffic, particularly in Asia-Pacific, and significantly reduces airport revenues.
‘Airports rely heavily on airport charges to finance their operational and capital costs, and operators are under intense pressure during periods of traffic decline.
‘Airport revenues must be sufficiently protected to guarantee safe and sustainable activities.
‘Measures to limit the collection of airport charges would not be sensible.
“ACI World and all ACI regions also call for a proportionate response to slot allocation on COVID-19, thereby preserving airport connectivity worldwide and promoting a market-by-market evaluation based on facts when it comes to to assess slot requirements.
“An evidence-based review would investigate contamination rates, load factors, forward booking forecasts and the environmental impact of continuing certain services.”