ACI World reports that international air traffic at its member airports grew by +7.8% in January to 125.8m passengers, with Europe accounting for 59.4m (+8.3%); Asia Pacific 33.4m (+9%); North America 13.3m (+3.7%); Middle East 8.1m (+7.8%); Latin America and the Caribbean 6.2m (+6.2%); and Africa 5.2m (+6.6%).
Angela Gittens, Director General of ACI World, speaking to over 200 delegates at ACI’s annual Airport Economics & Finance Conference in London this week, emphasized the implications of sustained traffic development for airports worldwide.
She said: “Traffic growth is clearly on the rise. Emerging markets are buoyant, and we also now see that mature markets are returning to real growth compared to the pre-crisis levels. Although all markets are not progressing at the same rate, the global imperative is clear: airports must prepare to handle twice as many passengers in just twenty years.
20 YEARS IS SHORT TIME FRAME…
“For capital-intensive infrastructure development, 20 years is a short time-frame to plan, finance and build new facilities to accommodate growth.
“Airports are taking action to maximise efficient use of current facilities, working closely with our airline and air navigation service partners to implement new technologies and agreed standards that streamline passenger and cargo handling processes as well as enhance airside operations. That will not be sufficient to absorb twice as many arriving and departing passengers.”
SHORT-TERM PROFITABILITY DEMANDS
Addressing the financing needs of airports, Gittens commented: “Future development is not without challenges. Against today’s backdrop of cautious investors and tight financial markets, airports must also meet short-term demands for profitability in an increasingly entrepreneurial environment. They must pay back their long-term debt while keeping a focus on future expansion needs.
“At the same time, airports must contend with short-term shifts in airline schedules and frequencies and compete fiercely with other airports for new routes and air services. That is why we also call on civil aviation authorities to ensure that their regulatory framework allows greater inherent flexibility in terms of economic policies and oversight.
“We need the ability to shape solutions in a commercial setting, which is better suited to today’s aviation business environment. Partner collaboration across the system opens the way for service quality improvements as well as the industry stability that attracts long term investment.”