Muscat: Due to the impact of Covid-19, the passenger traffic is expected to decline by almost 40 percent and revenue is expected to contract by US$77 billion in 2020. In order to alleviate this unprecedented impact, Airports Council International (ACI) has issued six focused policy responses that should be implemented,
The recommendations include protection of airport charges and revenues - as airports will need to ensure the continuity of basic services, alleviating the collection of airport charges through suspension or blanket discounts is an ill-advised response
Tax relief: urgent tax relief will provide much-needed financial oxygen to airports to ensure continuity of operations and safeguard airport jobs
Concession fee waiver: airport rents and concession fees should be waived or postponed in the form of a one-time measure for a defined period
Temporary suspension of slot usage requirements: airport slot usage requirements should be suspended, at a global level, until June 30, 2020, with a reassessment of the situation based on data-driven evidence to follow.
Continuity of air cargo operations: airports should continue levying charges on air cargo operations to maintain essential airside and cargo facilities.
Comprehensive financial relief: this should include wage subsidy schemes to allow continued operations and a rapid return to full operations. Grants and subsidies, secured financing, loans at preferential rates, and bank guarantees should be made available. Financial relief should be non-discriminatory and not benefit one actor at the expense of others in the aviation ecosystem.
“Airports are important engines of economic growth, wealth creation and employment and the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the industry and broader economy has halted the airport industry at global level,” ACI World Director General Angela Gittens said.
“Passenger traffic has collapsed but many airports are open for some scheduled operations, humanitarian and repatriation flights, and cargo operations and these activities continue to induce costs for airports.
“The millions of jobs provided by airport operators must be preserved and essential operation must be sustained in the most effective way to allow for these crucial operations to continue and for the foundation to be laid for a rapid recovery," the report said.