Hamburg Airport cautiously optimistic after tough corona year 2020

Pandemic "maintaining stranglehold" on aviation - hopes lies in vaccine
08 January 2021

The coronavirus pandemic brought flights at Hamburg Airport to an almost complete standstill in 2020 with passenger numbers coming to a mere 4.56 million and barely matched levels reached in the 1980s, Hamburg Airport said Friday in a press release. This was 26.3 per cent of the passenger volume seen in 2019. Despite the challenging conditions, however, airlines maintained diversity in Hamburg's route network of up to 70 direct destinations, it said. The airport now expects passenger numbers to recover somewhat in 2021.

Around a quarter of previous year's passengers

Last year, 4.56 million passengers or 73.7 per cent fewer than in 2019 used Hamburg Airport and putting passenger figures on the same level as in 1984. Around 66,300 take-offs and landings meant the total number of aircraft movements fell by 56.8 per cent in 2020 over 155,200 flights in 2019. Commercial flights i.e. scheduled and tourist traffic, accounted for an even bigger drop. However, airlines had maintained a rump program even during the lockdown to ensure mobility for Hamburg and northern Germany.

Tests and vaccinations give hope

"The coronavirus pandemic is maintaining its stranglehold on air travel. In the recent history of Hamburg Airport, we have never entered a New year facing such difficult conditions. Many airlines are planning to further reduce their timetables in the coming weeks. But for the summer timetable, we anticipate a slight recovery," said Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport. "Tests and vaccinations are giving us hope. Going on summer vacation by plane will be possible again in 2021. We can sense that people want to be mobile, they want to explore the world and they want to finally see their friends and families again after months of separation. We are already preparing for demand to start climbing again as soon as travel becomes easier."  

Airport plans scenarios 

Reliable forecasts for 2021 are still difficult at present, said Eggenschwiler. Hamburg Airport is forced to continue thinking in terms of scenarios. "We are currently anticipating around 48 per cent of the 2019 passenger volume for 2021 as a whole, but that remains a cautious assumption. We hope that the vaccine will bring the turnaround people are craving. We are currently expecting around 48 per cent of the passenger volume of 2019 for 2021 as a whole - but this is only a cautious assumption. We hope that the vaccine will bring the longed-for turnaround. Tourist traffic has a very important role to play. We assume that the private travel sector will recover more quickly than business travel," Eggenschwiler added.