The rapid spread of the COVID-19 epidemic around the world is affecting airports around the world with the global aviation community now facing a full blown crisis.
Addressing the situation in Europe Olivier Jankovec, Director General at ACI Europe said: “For now, airports in Italy are clearly the most affected. Even before the decision to place the whole country under lock down, Italian airports were already confronted with a dramatic free fall in passenger traffic.” He added that now they are “bracing for a total collapse in air connectivity and the prospect of losing most of their revenues.”
Elsewhere in Europe, the situation for airports is rapidly deteriorating. “Airlines are drastically cutting capacity and cancelling air services as they respond to falling demand resulting from loss of confidence, changes to corporate travel policies, and governmental measures which directly or indirectly restrict mobility in their efforts to contain the spread of the virus,” he said.
ACI Europe’s initial assessment of the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on the region’s airport operators show a loss of -67 million airport passengers in the first quarter of 2020 and an overall diminution of -187 million passengers for Europe’s airports in 2020. In financial terms a loss of -€1.320m in revenues in Q1 alone compared to a normal financial quarter.
The immediate cash flow pressures faced by airports has led to some adopting cost cutting measures. These include voluntary unpaid leave, recruitment freezes and the deferral of non-essential investment. Beyond the short-term impact on their financial standing, the COVID-19 epidemic could have lasting implications particularly for smaller and regional hubs, as future investments in sustainability, capacity and digitalisation all depend upon financially robust and stable businesses.