COVID-19: The Route to Airport Recovery

COVID-19 Route to Airport Recovery

UPDATE – See here for a Revised Route to Recovery Forecast 

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a catastrophic impact on the aviation industry with an expected loss of traffic to be more than 4.6 billion passengers for 2020 according to ACI Europe. As lockdown starts to ease and our industry comes out of the survival phrase, there are some green shoots of recovery. The critical question now for airports is ‘How to economically service the limited, but growing demand with the right level of resources, providing confidence and health screening to passengers and staff?’

In this article, we briefly explore the route to recovery, ACI Europe’s comments on the challenges facing our industry and AiQ Consulting response to support airports in managing their changeable demand for efficient operations.

Airport Recovery Phases 2020

2nd Quarter:  During this survival stage, airports take emergency measures to reduce costs, reducing or cutting capacity by consolidating terminals or closing operations completely. The primary focus was on saving costs and the survival of the business.

3rd Quarter:  During the first half of this quarter, airports needed to quickly understand and implement measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and give confidence to passengers. These included health screening, social distancing, biosecurity, facial recognition systems and contactless technology.

During June, lockdown started to ease, and governments once again allowed air travel setting up air bridges. As of the 6th July, the UK government lifts quarantine restrictions on European arrival flights of certain countries.  Airlines respond by increasing flights to a low level of activity, initially on domestic flights, but tentatively Inter European flights to countries that have demonstrated control of the Covid-19 virus. These green shoots of recovery are positive signs for our industry, but this slight increase in revenue has little effect on the cost base of an airport. The fixed and variable overheads of an airport must be accounted for.

4th Quarter: Demand will slowly increase including possible international flights, but the problem of the airport’s cost base will be compounded. Partial flight schedules, changing on an almost daily basis will provide an unprecedented challenge to airport operations and planners.

The Key to Recovery for Airport Operations

The ACI Europe Director General, Angela Gittens concisely summarises the challenges facing airport operations and suggests the key to recovery.

‘Effective decision-making will depend on a good understanding of what the path to recovery will be. Traffic forecasts will be essential for defining staffing and operational levels, capital investment requirements, and core business decisions on airport charges.

Predicting recovery with high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity may require airports to create entirely new forecasting frameworks that will be flexible enough to incorporate new inputs as better information becomes available.’

Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI Europe

The route out of ‘lockdown’ and the path to recovery is becoming clearer each month.  Consensus is emerging on what is expected of airports and airlines. The airport and its managers must find new ways to control costs and maintain efficiency.

AiQ Consulting endorses Angela Gittens observations and has provided confidence that our new repurposed cost-effective planning service and modelling tool is exactly what airports need to provide clarity to manage their changeable demand. Our Airport Planning Service is a better, cheaper, faster, scalable and more flexible planning service than airports tradition in house planning, thus giving airports the expertise from an award-winning team whilst reducing their headcount. Fast, simple and flexible, our Airport Recovery Tool quickly provides airport managers with a holistic operational vision across 13 key processes including health screening and social distancing processes for fast and smart decisions in managing changeable daily resource requirements.

Look out for subsequent AiQ blogs on identifying best practice to achieve the objective of how to economically service the limited, but growing demand with the right level of resource, providing confidence and health security to passengers and staff.

To find out more about how AiQ can help your airport through the route to recovery, contact us.

UPDATE – See here for a Revised Route to Recovery Forecast