So far, the recovery has proven to be uneven by region, and uncertainty regarding a spike in Covid cases from the Delta variant is clouding the industry's prospects.
In its report, 'Airports Face A Long Delay To Global Air Traffic Recovery,' the ratings agency says it believes the long-anticipated recovery may be pushed well into 2022 or later.
Domestic travel numbers reached 85 per cent of the 2019 level in July this year across the Americas and Asia, but international traffic only 26 per cent, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
This signals an uneven and protracted recovery of global air traffic. The upswing in domestic air travel during the summer contributed to the return of our outlooks on US airports to stable this year, even though the spread of the Delta variant has triggered a more cautious near-term stance.
In Europe, air traffic reached only 20 per cent - 25 per cent of 2019 levels in January-July and almost all our airport ratings still carry negative outlooks; even if traffic picks up to about 40 per cent, the full-year average will be at the bottom of the 30 to 50 per cent range we expected.
The situation is mixed in Asia-Pacific, where international travel through Australian airports is just one to three per cent of that in 2019 and although domestic air travel increased to 60 per cent-80 per cent, recurring lockdowns have led to significant fluctuations.