Airports Council International (ACI) Asia-Pacific has urged governments to replace quarantine norms with testing and contact tracing protocols in order to support the revival of the airport sector.

Preliminary forecast figures indicate that passenger numbers will drop by around 60% in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions by the end of this year.

ACI Asia-Pacific director general Stefano Baronci said: “The latest ACI forecast depicts an ongoing uncertain picture for the airport sector.

“To put the revenue loss in perspective, it equates to wiping out the revenues of 27 of the regions’ busiest hubs. We are now facing at least a three-year recovery period.”

Prior to the pandemic, data suggested that the Asia-Pacific airport sector was set to receive 3.5 billion passengers this year while the Middle East sector was expected to welcome 420 million passengers.

The latest figures indicate a drop of around 1.9 billion passengers in comparison to the pre-Covid-19 business scenario in the Asia-Pacific sector.

The Middle East airport sector is expected to welcome 170 million passengers in the Covid-19 period, which represents a fall of 250 million passengers.

By the end of this year, the pandemic is expected to impact airport revenues by approximately $27bn in the Asia-Pacific region and $8bn in the Middle East.

Baronci added: “Governments should relax current travel restrictions and consider alternative safeguarding measures to ensure the survival of the aviation sector based on a periodically updated risk assessment.

“The recent announcement from the Government of Singapore replacing the 14-day quarantine with Covid-19 testing for all inbound passengers from some low-risk countries is a first step in the right direction to support the economic recovery of the aviation ecosystem.”