Latest Report Confirms Devastating Pandemic Losses for North American Airport Industry
WASHINGTON – Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), the trade association representing commercial service airports in the United States and Canada, today released its 2020 North American Airport Traffic Summary containing passenger, cargo, and aircraft operations data from 263 North American airports.
“Since the very beginning the COVID-19 pandemic, airports took important steps to help ensure the health, safety, and security of the travelling public and airport workers,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “The steep and sustained decline in traffic in 2020 will have a lasting financial and operational impact as we look toward the future. As we work towards reopening travel and international borders as soon as it is safe to do so, airports remain as committed as ever to collaborating with government and airline partners, along with other aviation industry stakeholders, for the successful restart and recovery of the broader aviation sector.”
North American airports experienced the worst decrease of traffic in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. Overall passenger traffic declined by 61.3 percent following a record-breaking 2019. International passenger traffic, the hardest hit segment of passenger traffic, declined 73.8 percent. Domestic passenger traffic decrease 59 percent.
Overall air cargo traffic increased by 2.0 percent, as a result of significant increase in domestic freight of 5.6 percent. International freight decreased by 3.9 percent.
- North American airports experienced a 73.8 percent decrease in international passenger traffic and a 59.0% percent decrease in domestic passenger traffic in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remained the busiest airport in North America in 2020 with 42.9 million passengers, a decrease of 61.2 percent from 2019.
- Toronto Pearson International Airport is once again Canada’s most traveled airport with 13.4 million passengers, a decrease of 73.5 percent from 2019.
- Memphis International Airport became the world’s busiest cargo airport in 2020, handling 4.6 million metric tons, an increase of 6.7 percent from 2019.
- North America remains an important region in the global aviation system. More than one out of every three aircraft around the world took off or landed at a North America airport in 2020.
- The top eight world’s busiest airports in terms of aircraft movements are from the United States.
Economic Losses from Decrease Traffic
COVID-19 has had a severe impact across our economy, but its effects have been particularly acute for North American airports. Airports have seen a dramatic decline in passenger traffic and an associated drop in revenues. The drop in passengers – still some 90 percent in Canada – has decimated airport finances. ACI-NA estimates the pandemic will cost U.S. airports more than $40 billion and Canadian airports more than CAD $5.5 billion in lost revenues by the end of 2021— a number that will only grow if the pandemic and travel restrictions drag on past this year.