ACI World publishes updated recovery guidance for airports

Previous health and operational measures are included, as well new information on testing facilities and vaccine distribution

New guidance has been published by Airports Council International (ACI) World to help prepare the aviation industry for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the discovery of new variants of the virus and the government restrictions put in place because of this, the expectation of recovery has been seemingly affected. In response, the second edition of ACI’s ‘Aviation Operations during Covid-19 – Businesses Restart and Recovery’ includes updated guidance for both short- and long-term recovery.

The new information contains efficient health and operational measures that should be followed to support the reopening of safe air travel. It also incorporates new guidance on COVID-19 testing facilities at airports and supporting the distribution of vaccines.

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The document follows the release of new guidance put forward by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which includes ACI’s input. The ICAO’s Council Aviation Recovery Task Force has since updated its regulations to states, the take-off guidance document, and the manual in cross border testing and risk management.

"ACI’s World Airport Traffic Forecasts reveal that recovery is likely to be uneven across the world. Markets with significant domestic traffic are not expected to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels before 2023 and markets with a significant share of international traffic will recover much more slowly,” said Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI World director.

“Recovery will only be possible, however, if governments can get behind aviation with policy support and assistance to pursue a coordinated and risk-based approach to combining testing and vaccination to promote travel when the epidemiological situation allows.”

ACI World predicts that recovery will happen in different stages. The initial phase includes restart of air travel with a limited number of passengers and will be mainly for domestic travel.

Following this, it is hoped that there will be a slow increase in passengers as confidence is restored. This will then lead to an increase in capacity, with the final stage being the return of normal passenger volumes seen pre-pandemic.

All aspects of airport management and operation are included within the new guidance document. However, airports are not expected to utilise all options provided and should instead implement measures that are relevant to local circumstances.