The Director-General of Airports Council International (ACI) World, Luis Filipe de Oliviera has averred that aviation’s strength has always been derived from the inter-connectedness and interdependence of all its parts, but the industry is facing its biggest crisis.
Luis Filipe de Oliviera maintained that the COVID-19 pandemic, its effects and impacts, have brought the industry to a virtual standstill with airports anticipating a -59.6% reduction in passenger volumes equating to – 5.6 billion passengers for 2020, which is predicted to result in a staggering reduction of USD104 billion in revenue.
According to him, the interdependence from which the industry draws much strength has also meant that all parts of the aviation ecosystem have been hit hard with the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) recently revealing that the pandemic will result in a loss of up to 46 million jobs that are supported by aviation worldwide.
‘’As they first seek to survive and then recover, airports, airlines and their partners are looking for global leadership and consistency to show the way. It is the working relationship we have with our partners which has guided our response to the COVID-19 crisis and ICAO has been central to establishing this global consistency.’’
He noted that ICAO, member states, and representatives of the industry – including ACI World – have worked together to help establish recommendations to support a global recover through the ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART).
‘’The Task Force guidelines help to inform worldwide governments and regulators in aligning and progressing the local, national, and regional recovery plans that are now being implemented around the world.
‘’This coordination must continue and accelerate to foster a globally harmonized recovery which represents the most effective way of balancing risk mitigation with the need to unlock economies and to enable travel.
On the Airport Health Accreditation programme, the ACI boss said ‘’Airports are introducing new health measures and procedures which are designed to provide a safe travel environment and to reassure passengers that their health and safety is the priority. Consistency will be the key to a sustained recovery and the ICAO guidelines lay the framework for a globally-coordinated approach which will foster public confidence in the aviation.’’
To assist airports and to further the cause of a globally-harmonized recovery, he said ACI had developed the Airport Health Accreditation programme. ‘’Through Airport Health Accreditation, airports are able to demonstrate to passengers, staff, regulators, and governments that they are prioritizing health and safety in a measurable, established manner while also validating their own measures and processes.
‘’The programme provides airports with an assessment of any new health and safety measures in accordance with ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART) recommendations and in alignment with the joint EASA and ECDC Aviation Health Safety Protocol and ACI EUROPE’s Guidelines for a Healthy Passenger Experience at Airports. It is the only airport health measures assessment supported by ICAO.
‘’We are grateful for the support that ICAO has provided to the programme because it provides immeasurable assistance in promoting the harmonization of health measures being introduced around the world to facilitate the recovery of aviation.
‘’It has been impressive to see how the industry has swiftly adapted to new realities to introduce new measures based on globally-consistent protocols and hundreds of airports have signed up to the programme already. The success of the next phase of recovery, however, will require more global partnerships and more concerted efforts from governments,’’ Olivera said.
On the next phase of recovery, he has this to say: ‘’Airports and airlines are united in a call to governments around the world to address the devastating impact of border closures and other government-imposed travel restrictions through direct financial support that protects jobs and operations. But assistance is only one piece of the puzzle.
‘’ACI and IATA have called for urgent government action to introduce widespread and coordinated testing of passengers to enable quarantine requirements to be removed. Without this action, it is not an exaggeration that the industry is facing collapse.’’