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Middle East airports will lose $11bln in revenues by end of 2021: ACI Asia-Pacific

November 3, 2021
aviation

Industry body urges more governments to reopen, lift quarantine rules

Airports in the Middle East will continue to experience significant revenue losses this year due to sustained travel restrictions and quarantine policies in some countries, according to Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific.

The industry body, which represents airports in the region, estimated that revenues of aviation hubs in the Middle East could fall by approximately $11 billion by the end of 2021. In the Asia-Pacific, revenues are forecast to decline by $34 billion.

“Consistent with forecasts previously reported in 2020, the Middle East will be one of the hardest-hit regions globally with almost 70 percent passenger losses,” ACI said.

ACI has estimated that passenger numbers for the two regions could decline by 2.3 billion by the end of 2021, when compared to pre-pandemic forecasts.

“After a bad 2020 in terms of traffic and revenues, 2021 was even more dismal for Asia-Pacific and Middle East airports,” said Stefano Baronci, ACI Asia-Pacific Director General. “The particularly negative outcome in Asia-Pacific is a direct consequence of travel restrictions and q Miuarantine policies observed in many countries in the region.”

Dismal 2021

According to ACI, a repeat of this year’s revenue and traffic decline can be avoided next year if more governments reopen borders and relax quarantine requirements, especially in jurisdictions where vaccination rates have reached “satisfactory” levels.

“A repeat of the dismal 2021 can be avoided for 2022 if more governments can adopt the risk-based, pragmatic approaches recommended by ICAO and WHO… Some countries are applying these approaches, such as Singapore, Thailand, Fiji and Maldives, along with several Middle East and European countries and the United States,” Baronci said.

“With continued careful monitoring of public health situations through indicators such as hospitalisation and mortality rates, more governments are urged to expedite the calculated risk of relaxing quarantine policies, and follow the global trend of adopting digital health certificates with a view of supporting the resumption of international air travel.”

Airlines in the region, including Emirates and Etihad, have been ramping up their operations across their networks this year.

Airports in the UAE have been welcoming international visitors since the lockdown was lifted last year, although certain restrictions apply, depending on the passenger’s country of origin.

The airline industry’s net losses this year are forecast to reach $51.8 billion in 2021 and $11.6 billion in 2022, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

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