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Asia Minute: Regional Airports Suffer Severe Declines in 2020

AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim

Travel figures are starting to come out for the full year of 2020, and they show the impact of the global collapse in air travel. The Hawaii Tourism Authority hasn't yet posted its year-end statistics, but there's news from major airports in the Asia Pacific.


COVID-19 has disrupted lives, medical care and businesses around the world. And air travel in the Asia Pacific is no exception.

Hong Kong tumbled out of its usual spot as the busiest airport in the region last year — falling two spots to number three. Hong Kong International Airport handled about nine million passengers in 2020 — that’s a drop of nearly 90% from a year earlier.

The busiest facility in the region was South Korea’s Seoul Incheon Airport, with Singapore’s Changi Airport coming in a close second. Both of those airports served nearly 12-million passengers last year.

Just a year earlier, all three airports handled more than 60-million passengers apiece.

Not surprisingly, it’s a similar story around the world.

Last week, the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, said about 1.8 billion people took flights last year compared to 4.5 billion in 2019.

Airlines are tracking the negative impact in their quarterly financial reports — the parent company of Hawaiian Airlines will issue its latest report next week.

The cost has also been steep for the airports themselves.

The ICAO estimates the global losses for airports alone at some 115-billion dollars and counting.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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