Since the start of the year 2020, global airline passenger traffic has been falling at unprecedented rates.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global revenue passenger kilometres(RPKs) fell by 58% in H1 2020 vs. H1 2019. IATA also compared the decline in passener traffic in H1 2020 with six months immediately following the 9/11 attacks –considered to be the most severe aviation crisis prior to 2020 – where RPKs declined by 12%.
The steep decline in passenger traffic has resulted in economic losses for countless businesses in the air transport industry as well as the bankruptcy of numerous airline operators.
Airport operators which rely heavily on passenger traffic as well as aircraft operations for their revenue, have not escaped this financial bloodbath unscathed. With the decline in operating revenues, maintaining strong liquidity positions have become a pressing problem for many airport operators.
The second half of 2020 has seen a gradual ease in domestic and international travel restrictions as countries around the world aim at reviving their stalled economies after intensive periods of lock-downs.
However, the path to recovery of the air transport business remains long and arduous - IATA predicts a recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels at the very earliest in 2024 - and is dependent on a multitude of factors include the successful development of a vaccine.
In order to track the path of recovery for the global airport business, Airport Insights has created the Airport Operator Stock Index, its own customized market capitalization-weighted stock market index that tracks the performance of 25 airport operators listed in stock exchanges all over the world.
It aims to track the total market capitalization of this group of airport operators on a weekly basis, with the 31 July 2020 being the base date and the index containing a base value of 100 derived from the weighted average market capitalization as of the base date.
The airports managed by these all of these publicly-listed airport operators handled over 1.76 bil passengers in 2019, close to 20% of the 9.1 bil total passenger throughput as calculated by ACI for 2019. They had a combined market capitalization of US$207.0 bil at the end of the year 2019.
With the steep declines of passenger traffic in H1 2020, the loss of investor confidence in the airports sector has also been reflected in the falling of share prices of listed airport operators, resulting in a loss in the total market capitalization by 28.4% to US$147.4 bil by 30 June 2020.
While it is expected to take a few years for passenger traffic to recover to pre-COVID-19 levels, the Airport Operator Stock Index has increased from 100 points as of the base date of 31 July 2020 to 101.5 points as of 7 August 2020.
"Domestic air travel continues to drive the recovery in June", IATA Air Passenger Market Analysis, June 2020
"ACI World data demonstrates economic and social power of aviation", Airport World, 29 July 2020
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