Airports Council International (ACI) World has today emphasized that the COVID-19 outbreak is a systemic crisis affecting the entire global aviation sector impacting particularly heavily on airports and airlines. The sector is in dire need of support to avoid collapse.
ACI World Director General Angela Gittens – responding to a letter from SkyTeam CEO and Managing Director Kristin Colville – reassured her that ACI shares the concern about the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 outbreak is having on the entire aviation eco-system.
As regards alleviation measures for the industry, ACI World believes a global suspension of the 80/20 rule for a limited period would be appropriate to protect connecting traffic at hub airports and help safeguard connectivity worldwide. It is a fast-moving situation so ACI supports temporary global suspension of the 80/20 rule until 30 June 2020. Flexible assessment on the need to further extend the waiver will be based on data-driven evidence.
Airport operators are currently experiencing unprecedented declines in aircraft movements and passenger traffic which significantly hinders their ability to meet their operating costs and their fixed capital expense costs. The financial sustainability of the airport industry is under threat. As such, suspending the collection of charges or granting blanket discounts would make this situation for airport operators even worse.
“As an industry, we must come together to meet this unprecedented challenge,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said. “Many airports around the World, in particular in Asia and now Europe, face problems of liquidity which raises issues of operational & business continuity.
“The situation is set to worsen in the coming weeks and, while we support relief measures, these must be considered on a non-discriminatory basis for all affected actors in the aviation industry so that we can move forward through this crisis together.
“We believe that national authorities have now a key role to play to ensure the sustainability of the entire aviation system by granting relief on airport taxes, on passenger-based taxes, and on taxes on air transport in general to incentivize the return of passenger confidence to travel.
“To this end, we look forward to enhancing our cooperation with the airlines and their representative organizations such as SkyTeam in working to safeguard the viability of the aviation industry now and into the future.”
Airport operators are equally concerned about the adequacy of slot usage requirements. Existing provisions on justified non-utilization of slots in the Worldwide Slot Guidelines (and in regional and national regulations) do not cover situations of heavily reduced load factors due to exceptional circumstances such as those we face now. ACI has therefore urged for a response that preserves airport connectivity during the outbreak but also in comparable situations in the future.