Latin America-Caribbean airports face capacity challenges as passenger traffic growth continues
Growth best facilitated through flexible and consistent regulatory frameworks
As passenger traffic in the Latin America-Caribbean region continues to grow, Airports Council International (ACI) World and ACI Latin America-Caribbean today called for a whole-of-industry response to the forecast growth in demand for air services in the region.
This call was made as the ACI Latin America-Caribbean Annual Assembly and Conference got underway in Miami– which is widely regarded as the gateway to the Americas – hosted by the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, operators of the Miami International Airport (MIA).
The Latin America-Caribbean region experienced an economic recovery in 2017 after several years of weak performance. While passenger traffic growth rates showed resilience during this time – with results over 5% every year from 2010 – they moderated in 2016. Since then, there has been a return to strong growth with a year-over-year passenger traffic growth for the region of +4% in 2017.
To keep pace with the continued growth in passenger traffic growth in an increasingly commercial and competitive business environment, ACI asserts that airports must be able to collect sufficient revenues to finance investments in infrastructure and operations while also maintaining high levels of service for passengers.
“Aviation is a vital industry in the Latin America-Caribbean region, supporting 7.2 million jobs and providing $156 billion in economic value,” said Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI World. “Global demand for air services is growing and, the aviation industry must come together to respond to these challenges and help to ensure communities continue to reap the social and economic benefits of air service growth.
“Policy at a national and global level should be focused on facilitating sustainable growth over the long term so airports have the flexibility and consistency in regulatory frameworks to better serve their communities, invest in infrastructure and service improvement, and meet future demand. In many cases around the world, including in the Latin American-Caribbean region, private investment in airports has been successful in providing new or improved infrastructure, better facilities, and a positive influence on passenger experience.”
Martin Eurnekian, CEO of Corporación América Airports, President of Aeropuertos Argentina 2000 – and ACI Latin America-Caribbean President – said that airports must prepare to meet the challenges of passenger traffic growth which is making a solid revival in the region following an economic downturn in the larger economies in Latin America.
“It is heartening to see that passenger traffic growth in our region is showing strong signs of revival but with this comes challenges that we must all work together to overcome,” he said. “With the expected growth of demand in our region, airports are experiencing capacity challenges similar to those faced in Europe and North America.
“If airports, airlines, and our partners in government do not work together and prepare to meet this demand, we risk the prospect of increased congestion both in airspace and at airports. Now is the time to work together to address these challenges, to develop new strategies, and to plan to better cope with traffic growth in the short-term.
“Our cooperation with ACI LAC, the Latin American Civil Aviation Commission and aviation partners in the region has always been part of our agenda as we consider important the development of air transport in this emerging part of the world.”
ACI has long advocated for appropriate levels of private investment in airports to help airports improve facilities, create new and resilient infrastructure, and maintain service levels, noting that:
- Of the top 100 airports for passenger traffic, the number with private sector participation grew to 51 in 2017, five more than in 2016, and
- Of the top 500 airports in 2017, 39% had private sector participation.
Single airports, airport systems and airport networks provide significant value creation for airlines, passengers and the communities they serve. Economies of scope and scale enable airport networks to generate significant efficiencies in terms of costs and charges to airlines, while providing customers with a high quality of service.