Airports body ACI Europe does not expect passenger traffic to regain 2019 levels until 2024 – a year later than in its previous projection.

Demand for air travel in Europe is returning “at a slower pace than we had hoped for”, states ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec, and this has prompted the trade association to paint a more pessimistic picture of the sector’s recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

Frankfurt airport

Source: Fraport

Fraport has reported passenger numbers down 64% at Frankfurt airport over the first six months of 2020

Passenger traffic across Europe’s airports fell 93% in June compared with the same month in 2019. While this was a slight improvement from the 98% drop recorded in May, it fell short of ACI Europe’s expectations.

The body is now forecasting that only 19% of July 2019’s passenger traffic will be recovered in same month this year, after previously predicting 30%.

“This is down to the still-incomplete lifting of travel restrictions within the EU/Schengen area and the UK, as well as the permanence of travel bans for most other countries,” states Jankovec.

Passenger numbers at European airports are likely to be down 64% in 2020 compared with last year, while revenues will fall 67%, ACI Europe predicts.

It says those flights that have been reinstated across the continent are “generally achieving low load factors” – bad news for airport revenues.

“The financial situation of airports is not significantly improving, with some even making more losses now compared to their situation prior to the restart,” warns Jankovec.

“Considering that the peak summer season normally accounts for a large share of annual revenues, and the fact that temporary unemployment schemes are coming to an end in many EU states – not to mention fierce airline pressure on airport charges – liquidity will remain an ongoing concern through the winter.”