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ACI World: Global Passenger Traffic in 2021 Expected to Reach Only Half of 2019 Levels

Photo source: European Parliament

Photo source: European Parliament

New data by Airports Council International (ACI) World shows that the lasting adverse impact of the Covid-19 crisis is forecast to remove an additional 5.2 billion passengers by the end of this year compared to the pre-Covid-19 forecast for 2021.

According to ACI World’s advisory bulletin, despite recent positive news of certain markets re-opening their borders, global passenger traffic in 2021 is still expected to reach only half of what it was in 2019, with total traffic for 2021 forecast to be only 4.6 billion of the 9.2 billion passengers served two years ago.

Domestic passenger traffic continues to recover faster than the international market expecting to reach more than 3.1 billion passengers by the end of the year, a level corresponding to 58.5 percent of that achieved in 2019.

Linked to traffic reductions, ACI World estimates that the world’s airports are expected to lose more than US$111 billion in revenues this year, US$3 billion more than projected in a previous assessment of July 2021.

Photo source: European Parliament

Photo source: European Parliament

While the new data worsens the expected annual financial performance of the world’s airports, especially for the fourth quarter of the year, ACI still expects each quarter of 2021 to show an improvement compared to the previous one.

Compared to the pre-Covid-19 forecast for 2021, the quarterly revenue shortfall is projected to improve from a 69.9 percent decline in the first quarter to a 47.4 percent decrease in the fourth quarter.

“While the global travel market is still mostly depressed, more and more countries are moving towards the gradual reopening of their borders to vaccinated travellers. Despite a delayed recovery as compared to earlier forecasts, this trend brings a renewed optimism that air travel could see an uptick in 2022, moving the industry closer to recovery,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.

Moreover, new projections reveal that the Covid-19 crisis is expected to remove more than 3.6 billion passengers for 2022, representing a 28.3 percent decrease from 2019 levels. Similarly, the impact of the pandemic is expected to reduce airport revenues next year by an additional US$78.6 billion, or by 29.3 percent, compared to 2019.

However, according to ACI Europe, it is expected that like 2021, each quarter of 2022 will see an improvement over the previous one.

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