Airports Council International (ACI) has opened an office in Riyadh and released its 2022 Airport Connectivity Report at the inauguration.
According to local reports, an opening ceremony for the new bureau took place on Monday 18 September.
Saudi Arabia’s transport minister and Civil Aviation Chairman Saleh Al-Jasser was in attendance, along with officials from almost 50 countries.
At the event, ACI Asia Pacific and Middle East released its 2022 Airport Connectivity Report.
According to the document, Dubai International has retained its top ranking with Doha’s Hamad International taking the second spot. Tokyo Haneda is third.
Preliminary 2023 data suggests Dubai and Incheon lead across the region for this year.
Total connectivity across Asia Pacific in 2022 fell by 38% versus 2019 levels, but there are signs of recovery, ACI said.
Airport Connectivity Report: Measuring access
The Airport Connectivity Report was developed in partnership with PwC, and measures a passenger’s ability to access global air transport networks via both direct and indirect routes.
Quality of connection is also measured, from destination choice, frequency, onward connectivity and price.
The report analysed 100 airports which accounted for almost 60% of air traffic across Asia Pacific and the Middle East in 2019.
Other insights from the data include the Middle East significant uptick in connectivity. The region saw 26% growth from 2019 to 2022.
The strongest connectivity is to destinations in North America, Asia Pacific and Africa. Low-cost carriers are driving the growth.
ACI said a number of factors contributed to the decline in connectivity across Asia Pacific. Extended travel restrictions due to Covid-19, air traffic limitations and constraints on airport slots were all cited.
More broadly, economic downturns coupled with rising air fares and geopolitical tensions all hampered development.
From a passenger’s perspective, connectivity is crucial for mobility, bringing with it economic and social advantages, ACI said.
2023 outlook: ‘Improvements’ across regions
The outlook for 2023 is more positive, the association added. Preliminary data shows a significant improvement in seat capacity to China, which has rebounded 937% year-on-year.
ACI also gave recommendations for increased connectivity. These include liberalising air traffic rights, increasing seat capacity, and modernising the slot allocation system.
Reducing visa restrictions and tackling CO2 emissions were also cited as ways to ensure robustness of connectivity going forward.
“This study provides an invaluable tool to the industry and policy makers 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,” said Stefano Baronci, Director General of ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East.
“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.”
Earlier this year, ACI confirmed that Atlanta is currently the world’s biggest airport by passenger traffic.