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ME airports to lose 250m passenger traffic, $8b revenues in 2020

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on September 8, 2020
Even though most countries have moved from complete lockdowns to lighter restrictions, most of them still retain partial or total restrictive regulations

(KT file)

Globally, airports were expected to generate about $172 billion in 2020 before Covid-19

Airports in the Middle East will lose around 60 per cent of passenger traffic and revenues in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Airports Council International (ACI) said in its latest report.

The trade association of the world's airports said that Middle East airport passenger traffic this year will slump by 250 million from the 420 million projected during pre-Covid-19 to 170 million.

As a result, regional airports will lose around 60 per cent, or $8 billion (Dh29.4 billion), in revenues to $5 billion (Dh18.35 billion) this year, against the previous estimate of $13.2 billion (Dh48.44 billion).

Dubai International was not just leading the region, but was also the world's busiest airport for international passenger traffic, handling 86.4 million passengers last year. The region's other busy airports include Doha International Airport, King Abdulaziz International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport and King Khalid International Airport.

Globally, airports were expected to generate about $172 billion in 2020 before the Covid-19 crisis. Similarly, global passenger traffic will fall from 9.4 billion to 3.8 billion - a loss of 60 per cent, ACI said in its fourth update.

Even though most countries have moved from complete lockdowns to lighter restrictions, but most of them still retain either partial or total restrictive regulations pertaining to international travel - including 14-day self-quarantine on arrival. Africa and Latin America-Caribbean regions have the greatest number of countries with borders shut and flights suspended.

Prior to summer, most of aviation analysts projected that passenger traffic volumes will not reach 2019 levels before 2023.

"As the industry remains on the ground for much longer than anticipated in the first months of the crisis, coupled with ongoing quarantine measures, current projections on international market segments signal that passenger volumes will likely not return to 2019 levels until 2024. Markets that have significant domestic traffic, on the other hand, are expected to recover in 2023 back to pre-Covid-19 levels," the ACI said its latest analysis.

While the second quarter of 2020 was the worst the industry had seen, with a loss of almost 90 per cent of global airport passenger traffic, the third and fourth quarter are expected to show sustained -albeit partial - recovery, it said.

"Compared to the business-as-usual forecast of pre-Covid-19 for 2020, the loss in global passenger traffic for Q3 is expected to be close to 70 per cent, and that of Q4 approximately 50 per cent. This brings the full 2020 year at a 60 per cent loss in global passenger traffic," it added.

waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com


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