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ACI Europe Director: Multiple Threats To Industry Recovery

ISTANBUL—Europe’s airports are facing a “polycrisis” situation as they battle to decarbonize during a backdrop of geopolitical and macroeconomic risks that could threaten travel demand while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the director general at ACI Europe said.  

“We are dealing with a lot of risk; we are dealing today with a situation of polycrisis,” Olivier Jankovec said in a keynote address at the Routes World conference in Istanbul Oct. 15.  

“We’re getting very close to a full recovery. In the year-to-date, we are at minus 6%,” Jankovec said. ACI Europe recently said it expects a full recovery in 2024, earlier than its previous 2025 forecast.  

However, performance varies between markets. Underperformance in Germany is mostly accounted for by the relatively smaller presence of LCCs, which are recovering strongly. The war in Ukraine is having a significant impact on Finnish airports, while boosting some airports outside Europe. Some regional European airports have been performing strongly thanks to demand for leisure travel and VFR.

“So far consumer confidence has defied inflation, it has defied increased air fares and it continues to defy geopolitics,” Jankovec said.

But there are significant risks on the horizon: the cost-of-living crisis; a likely eurozone recession; and airline capacity constraints as they struggle to secure spare parts and new aircraft. The airport industry also needs to prioritize investments while under significant debt.

“And of course, there’s a risk of external shocks, and the last 10 days have shown that this is a very real risk,” Jankovec said.

“The question everybody is asking at the moment is, ‘When will the demand party end?’ We hope it will last it a little more.”

Within the industry, ACI Europe is concerned about governments imposing operational limitations linked to the need to decarbonize, the industry’s number-one challenge.

“We’re extremely concerned by the precedent that will come from the decision by the Dutch government to cut capacity at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport,” Jankovec said.

Source: aviationweek