The coronavirus crisis could have a $23.9 billion impact on revenue for Asia-Pacific airports this year, according to estimates by the Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific.

In comparison, those in the Middle East could see a revenue shortfall of $5.7 billion, and ACI urged governments to help safeguard airports in a 27 March statement.

ACI Asia-Pacific represents 113 members operating 602 airports in 49 countries or territories in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

A prolonged outbreak could reduce traffic by 1.5 billion passengers in the Asia-Pacific region in 2020, it says.

For the first quarter alone, the association expects a revenue loss for Asia-Pacific in the range of $5.6 billion, almost double earlier estimates, while the Middle East will see a loss of approximately $1 billion and that could double for the whole year.

Under a “business as usual” forecast previously published by ACI World, airports in the Asia-Pacific region could have looked forward to revenue of $12.4 billion in the first quarter.

Stefano Baronci, director general of ACI Asia-Pacific says: “The updated analysis paints an extremely challenging picture for our airport members who have already burnt through about 10% of total yearly revenues in just three months.”

The association says that at 12 top hubs in the region, traffic has been deteriorating from January and was down on average more than 80% by the second week of March.

“Relief measures are needed now for the sake of the entire aviation sector’s resilience to save jobs and allow economic recovery,” Baronci says.

Specifically, ACI Asia-Pacific is calling on governments to alleviate slot usage requirements, provide tax relief for the aviation sector, suspend or defer airport operator concession fees to governments, protect airport revenues and provide financial assistance, especially for regional airports.

“Several governments are still pondering which measures to apply as the crisis unfolds. ACI Asia-Pacific strongly advocates for policy measures that benefit all parties of the aviation sectors without prejudice in favouring airlines,” Baronci says.