Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), the trade association representing commercial service airports in the US and Canada, has reported its financial projections that US airports will lose at least $17bn between April 2021 and March 2022.

These projected losses will result from the prolonged decline in passenger traffic due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The association also reported that the $17bn loss was in addition to another $23bn deficit that US airports were expected to incur between March 2020 and March 2021.

ACI-NA president and CEO Kevin M Burke said: “The ongoing global pandemic continues to severely impact the finances of US airports. After a very difficult 2020, our airports still face significant revenue losses for the foreseeable future due to the steep, prolonged downturn in passenger traffic.

“These mounting losses, coupled with increased operational costs, will impede airports from investing in much-needed infrastructure projects, at a time when they continue to foot the bill for extensive facility upgrades and enhanced health and safety practices to limit the spread of Covid.

“Airports greatly appreciate the federal aid they have received so far, which has saved thousands of jobs. The economic report we are releasing today shows they will need additional federal assistance to get through this crisis.”

Last year, passenger traffic dropped by approximately 65% compared to pre-pandemic projections.

As per the current estimates, passenger traffic will be roughly 40% lower than pre-pandemic projections for 2021.

Moreover, US airports are expected to handle around a billion fewer passengers over this two-year period.

ACI-NA reported that nearly $11.4bn was lost from airport operating revenue as the cost of operating airports did not change drastically.

Airports adopted various new health and safety standards and invested in new technologies, which led to additional operational and infrastructure costs of around $3.5bn.

Moreover, these coronavirus-related expenses are expected to cost airports $3.5bn from April 2021 through March 2022.

The airports also lost around $1.6bn in Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) and $500m Customer Facility Charge user fees due to the drop in passenger traffic.

In addition, US airports’ debt burden has been escalating for the past two decades.

At the end of the 2019 fiscal year, total outstanding debt for US commercial airports stood at approximately $107bn.