The impact of the coronavirus is beginning to bite in Asia-Pacific, with Q1 passenger numbers expected to be significantly down in China and at airports across the region, warns ACI Asia-Pacific.
The downturn, means Asia-Pacific and Middle East airport revenues are under tremendous pressure two months into 2020 amidst the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, despite moderate growth in 2019.
ACI’s preliminary January 2020 airport traffic results reveal divergent performance among major aviation hubs in the region with some airports generating positive growth leading up to the Lunar New Year.
However, with the outbreak of COVID-19 occurring in late January, contraction is anticipated.
ACI Asia-Pacific warns that “a severe drop in passenger traffic is expected as many countries have imposed travel bans and direct flight cancellations in response to the outbreak, substantially decreasing air connectivity”.
Scheduled capacity within Asia-Pacific has dropped drastically, in excess of 15%, in February, notes ACI Asia-Pacific.
According to the China Ministry of Transportation, the Chinese civil aviation sector handled 38.4 million passengers during the 40-day Lunar New Year travel period, 47.5% down on the same 40-day period a year ago.
While the latest estimates by ICAO, issued on 24 February, reveal that over 130 airlines have reduced international services or cancelled all operations from/to mainland China since January.
The impact in terms of scheduled international passenger traffic from/to mainland China during the first quarter compared to originally-planned is estimated to be an overall reduction of 17.2% to 20.6 million passengers.
“The impact of the travel bans and restrictions in response to the outbreak is having a drastic impact on scheduled capacity,” says ACI Asia-Pacific director general, Stefano Baronci.
“It is concerning that China, which contributed close to 60% of the 2019 traffic increase, will no longer be able to fuel growth in this first part of 2020.
“Airport revenue generation and growth are directly linked to traffic levels. We can therefore expect declines of significant proportion for airports in affected markets in the first quarter. However, the ripple effect will be felt across many airports beyond our region.
“China as the world’s largest and highest spending outbound tourism market is giving signals of severe difficulty in the first two months of 2020. The aviation sector will need to rethink its connectivity strategy from its heavy reliance on Chinese outbound market.”