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Covid-19 to cost airports in Asia-Pacific $3bn, 24% of passengers: Report

IATA last week said the coronavirus epidemic could rob passenger airlines of up to $113 billion in revenue this year

Reuters 

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Tehran: A woman has her temperature checked and her hands disinfected as she enters the Palladium Shopping Center, in northern Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, March 3, 2020. AP/PTI

Airport passenger traffic in the region is expected to take a 24% hit in the first quarter from the coronavirus, leading to a $3 billion decline in airport revenue and placing pressure on growth projects, an industry group said on Monday.

Council (ACI) said the cancellation of flights had led to lower airline landing and parking charges, a decline in passenger and security charges and a drop in retail spending that was hurting airport operators.

"Unlike airlines, who can choose to cancel flights or relocate their aircraft to other to reduce operating costs, airport operators manage immovable assets that cannot be closed down," Stefano Baronci, Director General of ACI said in a statement.

"They are faced with immediate cash flow pressures with limited ability to reduce fixed costs and few resources to fund capacity expansion efforts for longer-term future growth," he said.

The Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines, last week called for rules governing airport slots to be suspended immediately in light of the disruption to flight schedules caused by the epidemic that first broke out in China in December.

Takeoff and landing slot rules mean airlines must fill at least 80% of their slots in any given season, or risk losing their allocation next time round.

ACI Asia-Pacific said it was sympathetic with the airlines' needs to avoid flying empty planes simply to retain airport slots, but it said it wanted an evidence based, market-by-market review rather than blanket permission to cut flights without the risk of losing slots.

It said the proposal would give airlines the freedom to cancel flights to and from congested not necessarily linked to the outbreak, jeopardising the ability for countries to stay connected with the world, which in turn would have knock-on effects on their economies.

last week said the epidemic could rob passenger airlines of up to $113 billion in revenue this year.

First Published: Mon, March 09 2020. 10:47 IST
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