World in motion
We report on the latest traffic statistics for ACI World, the release of ACI Asia-Pacific’s new Airport Connectivity Report, and ACI EUROPE’s green skies commitment.
ACI WORLD news: Global traffic figures close to full recovery
ACI World has published its latest quarterly air travel outlook revealing global passenger traffic expected to recover in early 2024 as it reaches 9.4 billion passengers.
Highlights from ACI World’s 14th Advisory Bulletin on the impact of COVID-19 on the airport business—and the path to recovery include:
- Global passenger volume in 2023 is expected to reach 8.6 billion passengers, which is 94.2% of the 2019 level.
- The year 2024 is expected to be a milestone for global passenger traffic recovery as it reaches 9.4 billion passengers, surpassing the year 2019 that welcomed 9.2 billion passengers (102.5% of the 2019 level).
- The gap between the Business as Usual (BAU) forecast from 2019 and the current recovery projections reveal that the percentage of lost traffic continues to decrease on a quarterly basis, from -23% in Q1 2023 to -13% in Q4 2024.
- The Latin America-Caribbean region is forecasted to be the first region to surpass its 2019 level. In 2023, the region is estimated to reach 707 million passengers, or 102.9% of the 2019 level.
- While the Asia-Pacific region is expected to have a substantial jump in passenger traffic in the first half of 2023 along with the ongoing opening of the Chinese market, its recovery is predicted to slow down significantly in the second half of the year due to challenges in overseas tourism and looming economic concerns. The region is expected to reach approximately 3.4 billion passengers in 2024, or 99.5% of the 2019 level.
Recovery in the Europe region is expected to slow down in the year 2023 and 2024, in contrast to the sharp uptick experienced during its 2022 summer season. By the end of 2023, around 2.3 billion passengers are expected in the region, or 95.5% of the 2019 level. This will further increase in the year 2024 while at a slower pace, to around 2.5 billion passengers, or 101.4% of the 2019 level.
- The Latin America-Caribbean region is forecasted to be the first region to surpass its 2019 level. In 2023, the region is estimated to reach 707 million passengers, or 102.9% of the 2019 level. In 2024, the region is expected to welcome 759 million passengers, or 110.5% of the 2019 level. Like the Africa region, emerging markets such as Colombia and Mexico are predicted to drive the region beyond the 2019 level.
- The Middle East region was the fastest-recovering market in the year 2022. In the year 2023, the region is predicted to continue its recovery and reach 394 million passengers, or 96.8% of the 2019 level. In 2024, the passenger number is projected to be 429 million, or 105.4% of the 2019 level. This forecast may be impacted by the economic circumstances of neighbouring markets.
- By the end of 2023, the North America region is estimated to reach near the 2019 level with 2.0 billion passengers, or 99.8% of the 2019 level. While the region showed a strong recovery during 2021 and 2022, driven by domestic travel, its growth for the next couple of years is expected to continue at a slower pace. In the year 2024, passenger traffic in the region is forecasted to reach 2.1 billion passengers, or 103.7% of the 2019 level.
ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, said: “ACI World projects that global air travel will nearly return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, with all regions expected to reach this milestone by 2024.
“Upside factors include the reopening of the Chinese market and surge in domestic travel, supply chain disruptions gradually subsiding, and inflation slowing down.
“While downside risks remain present, we continue to witness the dedicated efforts and commitment of ACI airport members and partners, and we are filled with optimism about the industry’s future. Aviation is a key driver of growth, jobs, and prosperity, providing employment, social benefits, and economic development to communities worldwide. This sector remains a steadfast force in global economic recovery, bridging connections among people, cultures, and economies.”
ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East news: New Airport Connectivity Report
Released at the same time as the opening of the new Middle East office in Riyadh and official rebranding of the region to ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East, the new Airport Connectivity Report sheds some light on how the region’s airports are doing in terms of their recovery
from the pandemic.
Dubai International Airport (DXB) and Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) were the most connected airports in 2022 – followed by and Tokyo Haneda – and retain their status in the preliminary direct connectivity ranking for 2023, with Incheon Airport International Airport in third place.
Developed in partnership with PwC, the Airport Connectivity Report measures passengers’ ability to access the global air transport network – capturing both direct and indirect routes – and also factoring in the quality of service of each connection, such as destination choice, service frequency, onward connectivity and price, contributing to the passenger experience.
The report covers a sample of 100 airports that accounts for almost 60% of the combined passenger traffic in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East in 2019.
It reveals that air connectivity in the Middle East stands out with +26% growth in total connectivity in 2022 vs 2019, with direct connectivity to destinations in North America, Asia-Pacific and Africa witnessing the strongest recovery post COVID-19, with low-cost carriers (LCCs) driving the growth.
In stark contrast to the Middle East, Asia-Pacific has seen a decline in air connectivity by -38% in the same period.
Several key factors contribute to the decline in air connectivity, including extended travel restrictions due to COVID-19, limitations on air traffic rights, constraints on airport slots, rising airfares, economic downturns and geopolitical tensions.
ACI says that this decline in air connectivity, coupled with increasing airfares, illustrates its negative impact on the recovery of air travel and the resultant inconvenience to passengers.
From the passenger’s perspective, connectivity is essential for mobility, providing significant economic and social advantages. Nevertheless, preliminary rankings for 2023 suggest a positive outlook for the region.
Stefano Baronci, the director general of ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East, said: “This study provides an invaluable tool to the industry and policymakers to adopt the use of air connectivity indicators to appraise the performance and sustainable development of the aviation industry and its economic and social impact on countries.
“In addition, it also shows how to prioritise positive outcomes for consumers rather than simply focusing on the price-determination function for the benefit of all aviation stakeholders and the travelling public.
“The next step will be for ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East to work closely with each government to promote aviation market liberalisation, visa simplification, investment in the development of infrastructure with a focus on the environment, and innovation of services.”
ACI EUROPE: Delivering the world’s most efficient, environmentally-friendly sky
ACI EUROPE is among a number of associations representing the European aviation sector to sign a Joint Industry Declaration announcing their intention to make Europe the world’s most efficient and environmentally friendly sky to fly in.
In line with the EU’s Green Deal objective of reaching climate neutrality by 2050, and to optimise capacity in the skies, associations representing airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, aviation manufacturers and business aviation have committed to joint action.
They aim to transform the sector and work together to maximise capacity in the air, whilst further reducing the environmental footprint of flying.
A key technological pathway to this transformation in the coming years is the optimisation of the European air traffic management (ATM) system.
With European passenger traffic set to recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2024, digital innovation in ATM can improve efficiency and provide the capacity to meet this projected demand, while at the same time realising considerable CO2 savings.
As a first immediate step, the associations will work together to update the EU ATM Master Plan, which serves as the common roadmap for SESAR.
With this Declaration, the associations confirm their commitment to work together to make their industry truly sustainable and more efficient, for the benefit of all Europeans.