Task Force Updates
In the most recent Regional Economics Committee meeting, members shared about the most pressings issues they faced and their experiences thereto. They included the implementation of COVID-19 related public health measures at their respective airports, the challenges faced in dealing with border controls and re-starting the industry, and uncertainties surrounding forecasting for longer-term infrastructure development needs.
Also on the agenda was the development of the Committee Work Plan for 2021, incorporating feedback from the ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East Regional Board. The Work Plan consists of:
Two existing projects dealing with COVID-19 and the path to recovery will continue in 2021:
- Bi-weekly monitoring of passenger traffic, and
- Workgroup to assess the financial impact of public health measures on airports.
Three new initiatives will be activated:
- COVID-19 impact on the overall financial performance of airports;
- Topical study on the economic sustainability of airports toward recovery (suggested topics include: cost saving ideas/ resource optimization strategies; drivers for traffic in the recovery period etc.)
- Airport privatization – financing and private participation. In anticipation of the funding need and the expected increase of private sector participation in airport development cost post-COVID-19, a new working group was established to review privatization policy and concession framework of airports
Two longer-term project concepts are in work:
- Regional industry research on the aviation landscape post-COVID-19
- Environmental concerns and economic impact on regional air travel
The Committee Work Plan was shared with the Regional Board at the end of October and the planning work on some projects will commence in the fourth quarter of this year.
In response to airlines’ call for a blanket relaxation of the 80% slot usage requirements, ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East in support of ACI World has been advocating for a conditional waiver for the winter season. ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East reached out to policymakers in 11 countries: Australia, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Maldives, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and made substantial inroads in several countries where the debate was previously dominated by airlines.
Among the conditions proposed, the timeline when airlines are required to return unused slots to the pool was the main point of contention. In line with ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East’s position which supported a 4-week return deadline, conditional waivers have now been granted in countries/ territories including: Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR, India (Delhi and Mumbai), Singapore, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. In Japan and the Republic of Korea, a 3-week return deadline was agreed.
Looking ahead for the Summer 2021 Season, ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East together with the Regional Slot Allocation Task Force and the ACI World Expert Group on Slots will further develop industry position on the following key topics:
- Slot usage requirements: the near-term policy objectives are to protect airport connectivity and gradually incentivize the return of pre-COVID slots to the pool for reallocation in 2022
- Allocation process, connectivity and competition
- Technology: consistency between booking systems, slot database & increased transparency
- Bankruptcy and liquidation proceedings
ACI Asia-Pacific & Middle East continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on passenger traffic and connectivity.
Weekly trending of passenger volume up to early November for both Asia-Pacific & Middle East indicated that the overall pace of recovery continues to be slow and is highly sensitive to resurgence of COVID-19 cases. In aggregate, Year-on-Year decline in passenger volume for Week 48 (week ending on 29 November 2020) was at -69%. China and the Republic of Korea are leading the recovery, driven by strong domestic demand. A noticeable rebound in passenger traffic in both markets was observed during the respective national holidays in early October.
Data collected from 31 airports (27 in Asia-Pacific; 4 in the Middle East). These airports collectively serve around 29% of passenger traffic in both regions combined.
To learn more about the findings or participate in this weekly traffic tracking initiative, please contact Mr. Philip Kwok, Economic Research Analyst.
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