Source: ACI-LAC.

The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown air transport into the biggest crisis of its history. In Latin America and the Caribbean alone, more than 700 million passengers were lost in 2020, a 61% drop from 2019. However, this dramatic reduction in air traffic presents a unique opportunity for many airports that need to expand their capacity.

Although it will take several years to reach the total traffic volume of 2019, the peak hour demand at many airports could recover much sooner. This is critical for infrastructure planning purposes, as peak hour demand is crucial in determining airport capacity. The size of air terminals, as well as the capacity of runways, taxiways and aircraft parking aprons, is determined by peak hour demand, not annual demand.

For this reason, the drop in air activity should be taken advantage of to carry out works that under normal circumstances would represent a logistical and operational safety problem, due to the mutual interference between air operations and construction activities, and, in some cases, may even affect airport processing capacity.

ACI-LAC recommends aeronautical authorities and airport operators to take the advantage of this opportunity to reduce air transport demand to carry out critical capacity and safety improvements. Several airports worldwide have taken advantage of the current situation to maintain and expand infrastructures that had reached their capacity limits and to upgrade safety conditions.