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ACI World estimates that overall airports will suffer the reduction of more than U.S. $108 billion in revenue by the end of the year. While international passenger traffic remained weak in the first half of 2021, signs are pointing toward a surge in air travel demand for the second half of the year, with uncertainty still surrounding the long-term recovery of the aviation industry.

“Despite increasing positive signs, COVID-19 remains an existential crisis for airports, airlines and their commercial partners and aviation still needs support and reasonable policy decisions from governments if an even, sustained recovery is to be realized,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira in a press release announcing the updated forecast. “As traffic declined, airports’ ability to collect those charges decreased proportionally and, with little flexibility in operating expenditures coupled with capital costs that are largely fixed, the current crisis represents an unprecedented challenge for the airport industry’s financial viability.

Despite the slower than expected first half of 2021, ACI World expects global passenger traffic to recover to 2019 levels by the end of 2023 which will be mainly driven by the recovery of domestic passenger traffic but dampened by a slower recovery of international travel.

In the long run, it is predicted that the global traffic may take up to two decades to return to previously projected levels, said the ACI World forecast.