ACI World data reveals catastrophic impact of pandemic on global traffic

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Home News Press Releases ACI World data reveals catastrophic impact of pandemic on global traffic

Domestic markets show signs of improvement but recovery remains uncertain

Montreal, 31 July 2020 – Airports Council International (ACI) World data has revealed that global passenger traffic declined by -91.3% year-over-year in May as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

This is slightly above the worst decline of global passenger numbers in the history of the aviation industry of -94.4% which was recorded the previous month in April.

Global passenger traffic continued its dramatic decline, falling more than 10 percentage points compared to the prior month to -52.5% for the first five months of 2020. The 12-month rolling average for the global industry is also continuing with the downward trend and recorded -19.3% by the end of May.

As in previous months, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the air freight industry was not as significant in May when compared to the passenger market. Global air freight volumes posted slightly better results in May compared to April with a decline of -17.9% compared to May 2019 resulting in a -12.8% drop for the first five months of 2020. The global 12-month rolling average continued to move further into negative territory at -6.7% by the end of the month.

“After a devastating month of April for the aviation industry when global air travel came to a virtual halt, data for May revealed a tiny sign of a recovery driven by the domestic markets in China and the United States,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.

“In the Asia-Pacific and North American regions, there were signs for optimism with the data showing some early improvement in domestic passenger traffic, but international traffic continued to be practically non-existent in May.

“As in previous months, global air freight volumes have not been affected to the same extent as passenger traffic and showed signs of a slight upward curve but, with most of the passenger fleet still grounded, capacity was dramatically reduced.

“Airports are important engines of growth and the recovery of this sector will be a significant driver of the global economic recovery. but this will only be sustained if passengers, staff, and the public have confidence in air travel.

“ACI’s recently launched Airport Health Accreditation programme will help to restore this passenger confidence, assisting airports by assessing new health measures and procedures introduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

ACI collects and analyses data from a significant sample of airports that provide regular reports on monthly passenger and air freight statistics, forming part of the world’s most comprehensive source for airport data.

Passenger traffic

Besides North America and Asia-Pacific, all other regional markets posted declines higher than -95% of their global passenger traffic. The start of a slow recovery of the domestic traffic helped North America and Asia-Pacific to post slightly better figures with decreases of -90.3% and -82.5% respectively. International passenger traffic continues to be virtually halted with all regions recording decline above -98% for a second consecutive month.

Global international and domestic markets posted unprecedented declines for a second month in a row, falling by -98.6% and -85.3%, respectively. The 12-month rolling average for the international segment was recorded at -20.2% and the domestic segment at -18.5%.

Domestic passenger markets remain severely affected by the ongoing crisis, but North America and Asia-Pacific have shown signs of a slow recovery. Decline are however still significant. North America posting a -88.8% decline while Asia Pacific recorded a -73.2% drop in domestic passengers. Other regions all recorded declines above -90% in May.

Air freight

The COVID-19 outbreak continues to heavily impact all major freight markets except for North America, but small gains started to emerge in May when compared to the previous month. Globally, air freight volumes were reduced by almost a fifth in May, with a drop of -17.9% compared to May 2019.

Substantial losses were recorded in Africa (-38.3%), Latin America-Caribbean (-34.6%), and Middle East (-38.2%) while Asia-Pacific (-21.5%) and Europe (-18.7%) recorded lesser but still sizeable volume losses. North America, recorded a less significant drop of – 4.6% in total freight volumes alleviated by a robust domestic freight market that recorded an increase of +0.1% compared to a substantial loss of -11.0% for its International freight market.

The international air freight market’s negative trend has soothed in May with a loss of -19.6% compared to the previous month’s decrease of -26.4%. Domestic freight volumes followed a similar path and posted a slight improvement to – 13.6% in May compared to -13.8% in April. Year-to-date air freight figures for May, as well as the 12-month rolling average, continued their negative trend and are now at -12.3% and – 6.7%, respectively.

Notes for editors

PaxFlash and FreightFlash statistics are based on a significant sample of airports that provide regular monthly reports to ACI. They represent approximately 60% of total passenger traffic and 70% of total freight traffic worldwide. Commentary, tables and charts are based on preliminary data submitted by participating airports and are therefore subject to change. Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, was founded in 1991 with the objective of fostering cooperation among its member airports and other partners in world aviation, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization. In representing the best interests of airports during key phases of policy development, ACI makes a significant contribution toward ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, customer-centric and environmentally sustainable. As of January 2020, ACI serves 668 members, operating 1979 airports in 176 countries.

Charts and tables

Traffic table definitions:

PASSENGER TRAFFIC: departing + arriving passengers
INTERNATIONAL: traffic performed between the designated airport and an airport in another country/territory
DOMESTIC: traffic performed between two airports located in the same country/territory
TOTAL: international + domestic passengers + direct transit passengers counted once (when breakdown is available)
Year-over-year percentage changes (% YOY) are calculated from a representative sample.

YOY     Year-over-year same month comparison
YTD      Year to date, starting Jan 2020, compared to same period in previous year
YE       Year end, based on a rolling 12-month period, compared to the same prior 12-month period

Traffic table definitions:

FREIGHT TRAFFIC: loaded and unloaded freight; data in metric tonnes
INTERNATIONAL: traffic performed between the designated airport and an airport in another country/territory
DOMESTIC: traffic performed between two airports located in the same country/territory
TOTAL: international + domestic freight (when breakdown is available)
Note: No domestic freight traffic is reported by airports in the Middle East and Africa regions.
Year-over-year percentage changes (% YOY) are calculated from a representative sample.

YOY     Year-over-year same month comparison
YTD      Year to date, starting Jan 2020, compared to same period in previous year
YE       Year end, based on a rolling 12-month period, compared to same prior 12-month period

Media contacts

Bojana Jeremic
Manager, External Relations and Special Events
ACI World
Telephone: +1 514 373 1254

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