COVID-19 – Impact on Airports in Latin America and the Caribbean

April 8, 2020
The international airport association compiled daily traffic data from 95 airports in the region, including seven of the ten busiest airports.

Traffic data gathered by ACI-LAC for the first quarter of 2020 shows the terrible impact of Covid-19 on airport activity in Latin America and the Caribbean. The international airport association  compiled daily traffic data from 95 airports in the region, including seven of the ten busiest airports, in order to analyze objectively the current situation of the sector and to project the impact in the medium and long term. 

The year began with a 3 percent growth in passenger traffic in the months of January and February. However, as of Mar. 1, traffic began to drop steadily as a result of restrictions on international travel and the imposition of quarantine measures in most countries in the region. During the second half of March the traffic slump was absolute, with the cessation of international passenger operations in most countries and basic domestic operations in Brazil, Mexico and Chile. In the last week of March, passenger traffic at the vast majority of airports was practically nonexistent, with a general drop of 97 percent (discounting operations in Brazil and Mexico). Even in countries where basic aeronautical activity is maintained, the drop in passenger traffic at the end of March was more than 85 percent. 

However, the vast majority of airports in the region must remain open in order to ensure air cargo operations, which are vital for the economies of our countries, as well as humanitarian flights, whether to attend health emergencies or for the repatriation of citizens. Therefore, airports must ensure the continuity of operations with fire rescue teams, airport operations, maintenance and cleaning, among others. But with the absence of passengers, revenue has disappeared. Passengers represent the main source of income for airports, paying the regulated fees for the use of infrastructures and supporting commercial activity, as customers of duty-free shops and handicrafts, restaurants and car parks. Up to 85 percent of airport revenues in Latin America and the Caribbean are directly related to passengers. Every passenger lost by airlines is a lost passenger for airports. ACI estimates that during the first quarter of 2020 the region's airports have lost USD 700 million.