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Uneven effect of Covid-19 shakes up the lists of busiest airports

Airports Council International (ACI) World has published its preliminary world airport traffic rankings – covering passenger traffic and aircraft movements for 2020 – showing the dramatic impact of Covid-19 on what are ordinarily the world’s busiest airports.

Global passenger traffic at the world’s top 10 busiest airports decreased by 45.7% in 2020. Overall, passenger traffic at the world’s airports decreased by 64.6% which shows that the impact of the pandemic and the early stages of recovery in air travel has not been uniform around the world.

According to the preliminary data, Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport in China recorded the most passenger traffic in 2020, with Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the United States just behind.

Seven of the top 10 airports for passenger traffic are in China with three in the United States. In most cases, domestic air travel is beginning a modest rebound while international air travel remained depressed because of travel restrictions.

Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of ACI World said,

The impact of the COVID-19 on global passenger traffic pandemic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face threat. The data reveals the challenge airports continue to face and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.

The findings show that the impact remains uneven with different regions experiencing different challenges and requiring different policy decisions and support from governments to lay the foundation for recovery.

With some positive signs of recovery, especially in countries with high rates of vaccination, a sustained global recovery will only be realized with an escalation of vaccination campaigns, the continued development of digital health passes, and coordinated and cohesive policy support from governments.

Air cargo was less impacted by COVID 19, with volumes decreasing by only 8.9%, to an estimated 109 million metric tonnes in 2020, equivalent to 2016 levels (110 million metric tonnes).

For airports, revenues are tightly correlated to traffic levels but, like many other capital-intensive businesses, a large proportion of airport costs remain fixed and do not fall at the same level as traffic throughput and revenues during the crisis. Even with reduced operations, the closure of terminals and staff layoffs, this imbalance remains.

Airports in China occupied seven of the top ten positions in 2020. Atlanta slipped to second position, having seen a reduction in passenger traffic of 61.2%. Chengdu and Shenzen both moved up 21 places, Kunming 29, Xi’an 30 while Shanghai moved up 37 places.
Dubai retained its position as the world’s busiest international airport in 2020. Amsterdam and Heathrow swapped places. Istanbul and Doha both moved up eight positions in the table.

South African Airways announces plans to close regional, international routes from 29 February

SAA has announced a tranche of urgent measures to conserve cashflow, including the axing of several regional and international routes from the end of February 2020.

SAA will close the following regional and international services from Johannesburg to Abidjan via Accra, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Luanda, Munich, Ndola, and Sao Paulo. But will continue to operate all international services between Johannesburg and Frankfurt, London Heathrow, New York, Perth and Washington via Accra.

On the domestic route network, SAA will continue to serve Cape Town on a reduced basis. But all other domestic destinations, including Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, will cease to be operated by SAA on 29 February 2020.

Domestic routes operated by Mango will not be affected by the changes.

The flight schedule for the rest of February 2020 remains unchanged and the airline states that it “does not intend to make any further significant network changes”.

New venture opens up China to BA passengers

British Airways has signed a joint business agreement with China Southern Airlines, for travel from 2 January 2020.

The agreement will benefit customers of both airlines by opening more destinations between the UK and China, with a greater choice of flights and enhanced frequent flyer benefits. It will allow the airlines to cooperate on scheduling and pricing, providing customers with more flexible flight options and an attractive range of fares.

British Airways customers will be able to travel more easily on a combined route network which will develop over time thanks to both airlines’ move to the new Beijing Daxing International Airport. The joint business will initially see the two airlines code-sharing on all direct flights operated on mainland routes between London and six Chinese cities. This will expand to both airlines’ extensive domestic networks.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said:

We are delighted to announce this joint business which will bring the UK and China closer together by providing British Airways and China Southern Airlines customers with a wide range of benefits. The agreement reinforces our commitment to boost tourism and business travel between the two countries and we look forward to strengthening the relationship further.

Paul Baker, Sales Director of Global Travel Management said:

This is an excellent opportunity for businesses travelling to the Chinese capital or to Shanghai, Guangzhou, Sanya, Wuhan and Zhengzhou. Because this arrangement between British Airways and China Southern will mean 31 direct flights a week between London and these six Chinese locations.

This deal builds on British Airways’ move to Beijing Daxing Airport – for more about this, see our news story here.

Customer benefits will include greater opportunities to collect frequent flyer points, the ability to book through both airlines’ web or app-based platforms, enhanced lounge access and access to high-quality Chinese and British products and services on board and on the ground.

If you’re looking to fly to any of these six locations in China, contact your GTM Account Manager to find and book the best fares.

2,265,792 hotel rooms in pipeline

Global hotel pipeline hits record highs

The hotel industry continues to boom, with a record high of more than 2.2m hotel rooms in the pipeline – a 6% increase over the last year. 

Lodging Econometrics, the global leader for hotel real estate intelligence has released its year-end Global Construction Pipeline Trend Report, which compiles the construction pipeline counts for countries and markets around the world. At the close of 2018, LE analysts state that the total global construction pipeline hit record highs with 13,573 projects/2,265,792 rooms, a 7% increase in projects year-over-year.

The global pipeline has ascended for eight consecutive years after reaching its cyclical low in 2010. All regional pipelines, with the exception of South America, continued their upward trend year-over-year. Four of the seven global regions reached all-time highs in 2018: Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific.

There are a record high 6,352 projects/1,172,591 rooms currently under construction worldwide. Projects scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months are at 3,860 projects/572,483 rooms. Projects in the early planning stage stand at 3,361rooms/520,718 projects, also at an all-time high.  The United Kingdom the pipeline is 266 projects/38,590 rooms.

Around the world, the cities with the largest pipeline counts are New York City with 171 projects/29,457 rooms, Dubai with 168 projects/49,943 rooms, and Dallas with 163 projects/19,476 rooms. Los Angeles follows with 147 projects/23,404 rooms, and Guangzhou, China with 132 projects/28,694 rooms.

The leading franchise companies in the global construction pipeline by project count are

  • Marriott International with 2,544 projects/420,405 rooms
  • Hilton Worldwide with 2,252 projects/333,209 rooms
  • InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) with 1,716 projects/249,379
    rooms
  • AccorHotels with 966 projects/177,052 rooms.

These four companies account for 55% of all projects in the global pipeline.

Contact your Global Travel Management Account Manager next time you need to book a hotel room, anywhere in the world.