Airports Council International Director General, Angela Gittens, stated that she remains positive about the aviation outlook, despite the current economic and financial turmoil. ACI forecasts resurgence in demand within two years, with traffic doubling at the world's airports by 2027.
Ms Gittens stated, "even in today's challenging business climate, airports must respond affirmatively to current and future capacity needs by continuing to shoulder major investment risks". She conceded this can be difficult, as investors and lenders "stand back cautiously", while sharp declines in traffic reduces airport passenger and aircraft charges, and lowers passenger spending at airport outlets.
ACI's latest annual Economics Survey 2008 results confirm airport capital expenditure commitments surged from USD40 billion in 2007 to USD50 billion in 2008, the biggest annual increase ever, and the large capital programmes under way have pushed up annual spending for depreciation, amortisation and interest (over USD20 billion in 2007) on top of operating expenses of nearly USD50 billion.
Ms Gittens expects the investment trend will continue. She stated, "airports will continue to work closely with their airlines to prepare for the upswing and what that means in terms of adequate capacity and operational needs". Ms Gittens added that on-going diversification, innovation and efficiency gains will ensure that airports remain key facilitators in the re-emergence of global economic growth.
Meanwhile, the ACI Director General took airlines to task over charges. Ms Gittens pointed to data showing airports held down airline charges to less than USD18 billion in 2007 (of the total airline operating cost of USD 488 billion, as reported by IATA). She stated, "this means that just 3.5% of airline operating costs are associated with airport user charges".
Ms Gittens added, "these aircraft-related revenues are below actual operating expenses incurred, and therefore passenger fees along with airport non-aeronautical revenues are subsidising the aircraft-related charges".