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ACI NEWS Last modified on August 25, 2015

World in motion: AW 3 2015

The 19th edition of ACI’s Airport Economics Report confirms that while the overall airport industry is in the black most airports lose money, writes Ryan White.

ACI World director general, Angela Gittens, reflected on the financial resilience of the world’s gateways in a tough operating environment when reviewing the newly released ACI Airport Economics Report for the 2013 financial year.

“In the face of the ongoing uncertainties in the global economy, global airport revenues remained resilient through the downside risks that have persisted across the world’s markets,” said Gittens. 

 “Airport revenues experienced sound growth rates in 2013 compared to the previous year. Although there are some regional disparities, growth in key emerging market airports has circumvented the slowdown in the Euro area and other mature markets.”  

She added that industry revenues as a whole grew by 5.5% from 2012, reaching $131 billion in 2013. 

Dr Rafael Echevarne, ACI World’s director of economics and programme development, noted: “The latest data also paints an interesting picture of airport profitability. The industry as a whole experienced a return on invested capital of just over 6%. 

“While a single measure of global airport profitability provides a good barometer of industry health, it often masks the important nuances and industry facts crucial for evidence-based policy decisions. The challenge remains that most airports in the world are small, with high traffic volumes concentrated in only a handful of airports. Therefore, the airport industry faces a conundrum.” 

He went on: “Although the airport industry as a whole is profitable, most airports are actually in the red on their financial statements. The latest estimates suggest that as many as 69% of airports worldwide operate at a net loss. 

“Most of these airports have fewer than one million passengers per annum. Smaller airports don’t have sufficient traffic to achieve economies of scale or generate significant aeronautical or non-aeronautical revenue. 

“These results have important implications for national regulators involved in the economic oversight function of airports. Given that airports are asset-intensive businesses, they require large investments just to accommodate a single aircraft landing. 

“Despite the important social and economic development that airports generate both for local communities and with respect to global trade, market size (in terms of traffic throughput) largely determines the financial health and viability of an airport.

“Taking this into consideration, there is no one size fits all approach for airports, irrespective of their location, ownership model and till regimes. Each airport has a different set of challenges, opportunities and circumstances. In turn, with an objective for sustainable development, this should influence how each airport is regulated.”

Talking about events last year, Gittens stated: “International tourism, in particular, was irrepressible in 2014 considering the geopolitical risks that have persisted in certain parts of the world such as Eastern Europe and the Middle East, as well as the Ebola outbreak. By and large, the international traveller in 2014 appears to have withstood the challenges.

“As well, air cargo rebounded after almost three years of growth stagnation whereas passenger traffic continues to post growth in the realm of 5% year after year following the Great Recession.”

Some other key airport industry facts for the
2013 financial year:

•  Revenue per passenger growth year-over-year: 2.2%

•  Distribution of global revenues – aeronautical (56.7%),
non-aeronautical (38.8%), and non-operating revenue (4.5%)

•  Global airport revenue per passenger: $20.96

•  Total cost per passenger: $16.96

•  Distribution of non-aeronautical revenue by key source: retail concessions (28%), car parking (20%) and property and real estate income or rent (18%)

•  Labour cost share of operating expenses: 35%

•  Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) per passenger: $5.95

•  Global debt-to-EBITDA ratio: 5.45

•  Industry net profit margin: 16%

•  Global return on invested capital (ROIC): 6.3% 

•  Over 80% of the world’s airports have fewer than one million passengers per annum

To learn more about the 2014 Airport Economics Report and Key
Performance Indicators, visit ACI’s at http://www.aci.aero/Publications/Full-Publications-Listing/2014-ACI-Airport-Key-Performance-Indicators

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