The Airports Council International (ACI) has issued a stark warning today that 200 European Airports face insolvency as a result of the drop off in air travel caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
They warn that an estimated 277,000 jobs could be at risk at 193 airports if air travel does not start to increase before the end of 2020.
Latest data from the ACI shows that air travel in September 2020 decreased 73% against the previous year with a loss of 172.5 million passengers across European airports.
ACI says that the airports facing insolvency are mainly regional airports which are crucial to the local communities for business travel and tourism.
The second wave of the coronavirus currently sweeping through Europe means that cross border travel is facing further restrictions.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE, said: “In the midst of a second wave, ensuring safe air travel continues to be our primary concern. It’s crucial that we reduce the risks of importation and dissemination as much as possible. But surely we can do a much better job of reducing those risks by testing air passengers rather than with quarantines that cannot be enforced.
“The figures published today paint a dramatically bleak picture. 8 months into the crisis, all of Europe’s airports are burning through cash to remain open, with revenues far from covering the costs of operations, let alone capital costs. Governments’ current imposition of quarantines rather than testing is bringing Europe’s airports closer to the brink with every day that passes.“
Regional airports have cut costs where they can but in many have had to increase borrowing. This sudden increase in debt in many cases is equivalent to nearly 60% of their revenues in a normal year. This, along with the fact that these airports had to make thousands of highly skilled workers redundant, clearly jeopardises their future.
Airports Council International data showed:
- A year-on-year decrease of 73% in passenger traffic at Europe’s airports in September
- The loss of an additional 172.5 million passengers in September bringing the total volume of lost passengers since January 2020 to 1.29 billion
- As of mid-October, passenger traffic stood at 75% down from the same period last year, reaching an 80% decrease for airports in the EU/EEA/Switzerland/UK footprint – a clear downward trajectory
The ACI says Governments must step up to provide the required support if this situation is to be avoided but it says that few have done so.