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ACI World Sees Slow Recovery for Global Passenger Traffic in 2022

Photo source: European Commission

International passenger volume is forecast to be only slightly above 2 billion in 2022, corresponding to 53.8 percent of 2019 volume, according to the latest data on the impact of Covid-19 on global passenger traffic and the airport business released recently by Airports Council International (ACI) World, the trade association of the world’s airports.

On the other hand, domestic traffic volume is projected to recover faster in 2022 than international passenger traffic, reaching a total of 4.46 billion passengers in 2022, or 84 percent of 2019 volume.

Overall, the Covid-19 crisis in 2022 is expected to remove close to 3.7 billion passengers during the year, representing a 36.1 percent decline in global passenger traffic. Compared to 2019 levels, this would represent a 28.9 percent decrease.

Over 2021, the crisis is forecast to have removed 5.4 billion passengers, representing a loss of 55 percent of global passenger traffic. This represents less than half of what it was in 2019, with traffic for 2021 totalling only 4.4 billion (48.3 percent) of the 9.2 billion passengers served two years ago.

Photo © European Union - EP

Photo © European Union – EP

Covid impact on global airport revenues

ACI World’s data shows that the Covid-19 crisis continued to severely affect airport revenues in 2021. It is now estimated that, globally, airports have lost more than US$83.1 billion in revenues in 2021.

Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, the airport industry was expected to generate more than US$175.8 billion in revenues in 2022. However, ACI World said the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on airport revenues will continue in 2022, reducing them by an additional US$60.8 billion, or 34.6 percent. Airport revenues in 2022 are forecast to only reach 72.6 percent of 2019 levels.

Recovery of travel in 2022 could face ‘multiple headwinds’

According to ACI World, despite slower than expected recovery from the impact of Covid-19 and persisting financial challenges, the easing of travel restrictions in key aviation markets in 2022 brings renewed optimism for growth in the travel sector.

Photo source: ACI World

Photo © European Union – EP

However, while ACI World remains optimistic, it is also cautious that recovery could face “multiple headwinds”, ranging from new potential variants, high crude oil prices, higher inflation, or supply chain disruptions. Armed conflict, such as the current situation in Ukraine, and increased geopolitical tensions around the world could also dampen the speed and magnitude of the recovery.

“Our thoughts are with the people and our colleagues in aviation impacted by the situation in Ukraine,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira.

Photo source: European Commission

Photo source: European Commission

“As we have seen during the Covid-19 crisis, agility and adaptation is in aviation’s DNA. Airports are trained to handle crises and the priority remains to keep people — travellers and staff — safe. This is the number one priority, always. Like many, we are hoping for a peaceful resolution to this crisis.”

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