Europe’s airports could see 187 million fewer passengers in 2020
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    Europe’s airports could see 187 million fewer passengers in 2020

    Credit: Dion Hinchcliffe (CC BY-SA 2.0)

    The new coronavirus (Covid-19) epidemic has caused a major crisis for Europe’s airports, which could see passenger traffic decrease by an estimated 187 million in 2020.

    The impact of the virus was initially marginal, and limited to airports with connections to the concerned regions in Asia, but due to the spread of the coronavirus to Europe, airports now face a real crisis, the European airports association, ACI-Europe, said on Tuesday.

    It forecasts that airports in Europe will have 67 million fewer passengers in the first quarter, a 13.5% reduction compared to a normal first quarter. Additionally, the airports stand to lose about €1.3 billion in gross receipts in the first quarter alone.

    ACI-Europe expects passenger traffic at Europe’s airports for the entire year 2020 to be 7.5% lower than in 2019, whereas it had initially expected a 2.3% increase.

    Italy’s airports are the worst hit by the current health crisis. Even before Monday’s decision to lock down the entire country, Italy’s airports were already facing a spectacular reduction in passenger numbers, which was over 60% for most sites, according to ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec.

    Now they are facing a complete collapse of their flight network and the prospect of losing most of their income, he noted, urging Italy’s government to put emergency measures in place quickly.

    On Tuesday, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Europe’s third low-cost carrier, announced that it was cancelling 3,000 flights, which is 15% of its capacity, from mid-March to mid-June due to lower demand, and that it would carry out temporary layoffs.

    Another leading low-cost airline, Ryanair, also announced the suspension of its flights to Italy until 8 April.

    In 2019, airports in 46 European countries received 2.43 billion passengers, setting a new world record. However, growth had been just 3.2%, which is half less than in 2018.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times