FRANCE. Groupe ADP CEO Augustin de Romanet has said the COVID-19 outbreak could have a “real material” impact on the performance of Paris’s two main international airports.

De Romanet has said the airport operator would likely be able to absorb any impact in the first quarter of the year

Speaking after the airport operator reported a +17.3% year-on-year increase in consolidated revenue for 2019, de Romanet discussed the importance of Chinese travellers at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly.

“We have 2 million passengers from China [every year],” he told investors. “Out of these 2 million passengers they spend 15% of what we rake in [in retail outlets], so this is real material.”

Despite the two Parisian airports having 13 destinations in Greater China, de Romanet said global traffic for the airports was up year-on-year in January 2020.

He added that the timing of the coronavirus meant that the airport might be able to absorb any impact. “The months of January, February and March are small ones for traffic with China. So, if the flights from China start up again in April, one might say that we could absorb that in the usual margins that we have with room to manoeuvre,” he said.

“However, if it continues in April and May,” de Romanet continued. “This is going to affect us and we will have to draw the conclusions from that in our forecast.

“One can say very simply that the experience of SARS [is] that the traffic picks up again very quickly once the crisis is over. The question today is, how long is this going to last?”

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