Earlier this week, United announced it would be putting just over 16,000 workers on involuntary and indefinite furlough at the beginning of October unless the government announces an extension to the CARES Act which has been providing vital payroll assistance to hard-hit airlines since March. Such announcements have been sadly common over the past few weeks and they show just how hard U.S. airlines have been hit since the pandemic swept across the world earlier this year. A recent report from Airports Council International has now highlighted just how badly global civil aviation is struggling and how a 60 percent drop in airport revenue and passenger numbers has become an existential threat to the industry.
It states that air traffic is the lifeblood of the airport and that practically all revenue comes from aeronautical and non-aeronautical services. The collapse of passenger numbers has now led to revenue from passenger and aircraft-related charges as well as ancillary aviation-related services such as ground-handling evaporating. That is set to have far reachig consqeuences for airports, especially given levels of uncertainty regarding the recovery trajectory of global air traffic. ACI projected 9.4 billion passenger movements before the Covid-19 crisis and that has now been revised down to 3.8 billion. Likewise, revenue is set to suffer an equally catastrophic collapse, plummeting from a projected $179.9 billion to $67.4b billion.