Europe’s aviation sector will be the hardest hit by Covid-19 this year, with full-year revenues forecast to plummet by US $37.5 billion compared to 2019 levels.
Airports Council International (ACI) World said despite some "positive signs" of recovery, the impact of the pandemic on airports would still be "deeply felt" in 2021.
It forecasts 4.7 billion fewer passengers will travel this year, a 47.5% decline in global passenger traffic. This equates to an economic hit worth in excess of US $94 billion.
With different regions set to recover at different rates, ACI World believes markets with significant domestic traffic will be the first to pick-up, achieving pre-Covid levels by 2023.
Markets with a greater reliance on international traffic, like Europe, are unlikely to return to 2019 levels until 2024 "or even 2025", ACI World has warned.
ACI said as a consequence of its "uncoordinated travel restrictions" and small domestic markets, Europe would likely remain the most affected region in absolute terms.
Factors that will support the recovery, according to ACI, include a common health data framework that allows borders to reopen safely and cross-border travel to resume.
"ACI is supportive of any system which will allow testing and vaccination data to be shared consistently, effectively, and in a way that protects the personal data of those that use it," said the group.
Director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira said with the world embarking on the largest mass vaccination campaign in history, there were "encouraging signs and prospects" for a surge in travel demand in the second half of the year.
"Despite this, Covid-19 remains an existential crisis for airports, airlines and their commercial partners, and we need support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure aviation can fuel the global economic recovery."
De Oliveira said ACI hoped confidence arising from vaccination and safety measures would see more people start travelling internationally in the spring "and significantly increase by mid-year".
"Aviation recovery will not take-off, however, without a coordinated and globally-consistent approach to vaccination and testing, coupled with a safe and interoperable methods of sharing testing and vaccination information," de Oliveira said.