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Dortmund Airport takes stock: Getting through the crisis in waves

Passenger numbers fall by 55% in 2020

Dortmund aiport news allgemein terminal 1

1,220,624 passengers used Dortmund Airport for their journey in 2020. This is 55% lower than the number of passengers the Airport saw in its record year in 2019. The number of flights fell by 48% in the same period. Katowice continues to be the most popular destination to fly to from Dortmund Airport. A great number of passengers are also making use of the connections to Bucharest and Sofia.

Airport CEO Ludger van Bebber summarises that, “A very tough year for the entire industry is coming to a close. The corona pandemic has created never-before-seen challenges and called for a high a degree of flexibility. Issues have ranged from creating hygiene concepts, introducing furlough schemes and establishing testing centres, to the complete shutdown of air travel, the establishment of a Wizz Air Base and restarting air travel. Whilst we may have seen better figures than the average German airport in 2020, we fell well short of our actual target of matching our record year of 2019”.

However, van Bebber is cautiously optimistic about 2021. “Thanks to the good collaboration we have with our long-term partners, including during the crisis, the flexibility and commitment of our entire team of staff, the support of our parent company DSW21 and, not least of all, the commitment of our biggest customer, Wizz Air, to the Dortmund site, we can look to the future with confidence. Our assumption is that there will be a substantial recovery in air travel during 2021. Making an exact prediction of customer numbers during the corona pandemic is impossible – 2020 made that abundantly clear. What is important for us is that we take a significant step in the right direction in 2021 so that we can recreate our 2019 performance once more in 2022. Assuming that air travel recovers in time for the Summer 2021 season and that the vaccination rollout goes well, our aim is to welcome more than 2 million passengers to the Airport in 2021.”

Through the crisis in waves - Significant fluctuation from month to month

2020 started off with record numbers for the Airport: Overall, Dortmund Airport saw 11% more passengers in January and February than in our record year of 2019.

This was followed by the lockdown in March, at which point air travel across Germany fell off a cliff edge, with passenger numbers that month falling to 52% of the previous year’s value. Then came April and May when air travel came to an almost complete standstill. Only some 11,000 passengers used the airport across both months combined – the same number that we would usually see in a single day during peak season.

A decrease in infection rates and the resulting easing of corona measures caused air travel to recover slightly in June. By July, passenger numbers were already back to 50% of the previous year’s value.

Passenger numbers saw another significant increase with the opening of the Wizz Air Base at the start of August, and across the entire month Dortmund Airport welcomed passengers at around 71% of the previous year’s value. The number of flights in the same period fell by just 4%.

Passenger numbers have been falling dramatically once again since the end of the summer holidays. As well as the end of the holidays, this has been primarily down to the fact that infection rates are increasing in several holiday destinations, with the RKI (Robert Koch Institut) constantly being forced to add new risk areas to its list. Other countries consequently introduced bans or restrictions on people travelling from Germany. The result was a cancellation of connections and a pruning of the air travel calender over the following months. Passenger numbers subsequently fell to 56% of the previous year’s value in September.

With the infection gaining renewed strength in Germany through the autumn and a lockdown (light) being introduced, passenger numbers took another significant hit in the third quarter. From October to December, 69% fewer passengers used the Airport than in the same period in 2019, and the autumn and winter holidays failed to offer any notable recovery.