New Delhi: Amid projection of losses to continue in 2021 for airports in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific on Tuesday urged governments to reopen borders and ease quarantine requirements especially in countries where vaccination coverage is satisfactory.
Compared with ACI’s pre-pandemic projections for the same period, the two regions are forecasted to lose over 2.3 billion passengers by the end of 2021.
Airport revenues, a direct reflection of passenger traffic, are forecasted to decline by approximately US$ 34 billion in Asia-Pacific and US$11 billion in the Middle East by the end of 2021.
“The latest ACI forecast shows that 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, Director General, ACI Asia-Pacific.
Baronci noted that 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 the WHO.
The ACI Asia-Pacific DG further said that in pursuit of boosting international travel and stimulating economic growth, 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.
“By the end of 2021, more major economies in Asia would have fully vaccinated over 70% of their populations, bringing an additional layer of protection against the coronavirus. With continued careful monitoring of public health situations through indicators such as hospitalization 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,” Baronci stated.
Asia-Pacific, already adversely affected by constant lockdowns, stringent travel and quarantine restrictions, is forecasted to close out the year with around 56% passenger losses, despite resumption of some domestic travel in a few markets. The Middle East is likely be one of the hardest-hit regions globally with almost 70% passenger losses.