European airports revise recovery projection to 2024 whilst reporting only marginal traffic increase for June
16 July 2020
“It’s a slower pace than we’d hoped for” says ACI EUROPE chief, pointing to unaligned lifting of blanket travel restrictions
ACI EUROPE reported today that passenger traffic across the European airport network stood at -93% in June compared to the same period last year - a marginal improvement over the previous month (May 2020: -98%). Europe’s airports welcomed only 16.8 million passengers through their doors in June, compared to 240 million in the same month last year.
The improvement over the preceding month reflects the progressive lifting of travel restrictions within the EU and Schengen area. As a result, the European airport network saw daily passenger volumes increasing nearly threefold from 267,000 passengers on 1 June to 757,000 passengers on 30 June – still a far cry from last year’s daily average of 8 million in the same month.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE said: “The recovery in passenger traffic is proceeding at a slower pace than we had hoped for. This was the case in June, and initial data for July also indicates we’re likely to recover only 19% of last year’s traffic rather than the 30% we had forecast. This is down to the still incomplete lifting of travel restrictions within the EU / Schengen area and the UK - as well as the permanence of travel bans for most other countries. The fact that EU and Schengen states have not yet managed to effectively coordinate and align over their travel policies does not help, as it is not conducive to restoring confidence in travel and tourism in the middle of the peak Summer season.”
Taking stock of the developments as well as of the current epidemiological situation globally, ACI EUROPE released today a revised traffic forecast1. Accordingly:
- A full recovery in passenger traffic to 2019 levels is now expected for 2024, rather than 2023 as per the previous forecast (May 2020).
- Europe’s airports are now set to lose -1.57 billion passengers in 2020, a decrease of -64% compared to the previous year.
- Europe’s airports’ revenues are now set to decrease by -€32.4 billion in 2020 (-67%).
ACI EUROPE also warned that current recovery patterns come with significant diseconomies of scale for airports.
With reinstated flights generally achieving low load factors, passenger volumes are trailing behind flight numbers2. This is particularly impacting airports, as their operating costs are driven by aircraft movements while the bulk (76%) of their revenues comes from passengers (through passenger charges for the use of their facilities and a wide range of passenger-driven commercial revenues – in particular retail). This means that the current recovery pattern disproportionately increases costs relative to revenues.
Jankovec commented: “The financial situation of airports is not significantly improving – with some even making more losses now compared to their situation prior to the restart. Considering that the peak Summer season normally accounts for a large share of annual revenues and the fact that temporary unemployment schemes are coming to an end in many EU States - not to mention fierce airline pressure on airport charges - liquidity will remain an on-going concern through the winter. Many airports, especially smaller regional airports, will need financial relief. This requires looking beyond the current EC Temporary Framework on State aid which is ending next December.”