Trade association Airports Council International Europe has pushed back its projections for a full recovery in air passenger traffic levels, following lower than expected figures for June and July.

ACI Europe had previously projected a full recovery to 2019 passenger levels by 2023, but warned that an “unaligned lifting of blanket travel restrictions” across Europe was “not conducive to restoring confidence in travel and tourism”.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe said that “initial data for July indicates we’re likely to recover only 19 per cent of last year’s traffic rather than the 30 per cent we had forecast”, leading the organisation to revise its projection for a full recovery to 2024.

Jankovec blamed the lower than expected figures on “the still incomplete lifting of travel restrictions within the EU / Schengen area and the UK – as well as the permanence of travel bans for most other countries”.

Figures showed a threefold increase in passenger volumes between June 1 and June 30 (from 267,000 passengers to 757,000) as travel restrictions were lifted, but this is still down 93 per cent on the eight million during June 2019.

Europe’s airports are expected to lose 1.57 billion passengers in 2020, with revenue set to be down by over €32 billion.

ACI Europe also warned that airports are being impacted by low load factors, with passenger volumes trailing behind flight numbers.

The association said that airport operating costs “are driven by aircraft movements while the bulk (76 per cent) of their revenues comes from passengers (through passenger charges for the use of their facilities and a wide range of passenger-driven commercial revenues – in particular retail)”.

“The financial situation of airports is not significantly improving – with some even making more losses now compared to their situation prior to the restart,” said Jankovec .

“Considering that the peak summer season normally accounts for a large share of annual revenues and the fact that temporary unemployment schemes are coming to an end in many EU States – not to mention fierce airline pressure on airport charges – liquidity will remain an on-going concern through the winter.

“Many airports, especially smaller regional airports, will need financial relief. This requires looking beyond the current EC Temporary Framework on State aid which is ending next December.”