- Passenger numbers down 68% at end-September 2020
- Slight uptick in the third quarter (down 79% after being down 96% in Q2) driven by tourism and people travelling to see friends and family over the summer period
- September affected by the return of restrictions and subdued business travel
Passenger traffic was able to pick back up somewhat over the summer season as border closures were gradually lifted from 15 June in the Schengen area and travel restrictions in many countries were relaxed. Airports handling primarily tourist, family and domestic flights were best placed to take advantage of these conditions in July and August. The uptick was cut short in September as restrictions came back into force in an effort to stem the sustained rise in Covid-19 infections. To date, business traffic continues to remain very low.
Passenger numbers in the third quarter of 2020 were down 79.1% on the same period the previous year, with a total of 15 million passengers handled across the 45 airports in the VINCI network. Over the first nine months of the year, cumulative passenger numbers had fallen 67.9% compared with the first nine months of 2019.
All airports in the VINCI network comply with the hygiene recommendations made by major international health bodies, applied through the “Protecting Each Other” campaign. Bureau Veritas approved the measures put in place by the network’s airports in France, the UK and Portugal. Furthermore, at Lyon Saint-Exupéry, VINCI Airports launched MONA at the start of October. The first of its kind in the world, this new biometric travel service allows passengers to enjoy a fully autonomous and contactless journey through the airport.
- Passenger numbers in Portugal fell 71.8% in Q3. As restrictions were lifted for people entering the country before the summer season, numbers of passengers travelling on holiday or to visit friends and family gradually picked up from other European countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. However, airports in Portugal suffered from the lack of British tourists, as the country was only included on the UK government’s Travel Corridor List for a few days between late August and early September. Over the quarter as a whole, traffic in Porto and Faro showed greater resilience than in Lisbon, which suffered from the significant drop in long haul flights, causing the national airline TAP to cut back capacity.
- In the UK, passenger numbers at London Gatwick and Belfast International in Q3 2020 were down 86.4% and 73.4%, respectively. Both airports were hit hard by travel restrictions, in particular the quarantine imposed on people entering the UK from certain countries and the frequent policy changes, which has affected passenger confidence. Nevertheless, Belfast airport was able to take advantage of its exposure to domestic travel throughout July and August. The new Wizz Air base opened at London Gatwick will provide, from October 2020, an additional 450,000 seats each year on new routes from the airport.
- Passenger numbers travelling through the three Kansai airports in Japan fell 80.6% in Q3. Following the decision to lift domestic travel restrictions on 19 June, domestic flights started to recover somewhat. However, the Japanese authorities maintained restrictions on international travel, which limit access to the country considerably, including a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals. The Osaka-Itami domestic airport saw Q3 traffic fall 63.4% (33.5% drop in aircraft movements), while passenger numbers at the KIX international airport absorbed a 91.5% decline.
- The borders in Chile have been closed since 18 March and local lockdown measures and travel restrictions were put in place in Q3. In particular, the country’s capital was under lockdown until 17 August. These measures have heavily affected traffic at Santiago airport (down 92.1% in Q3).
- In France, traffic in the third quarter was down 68.0%, supported in particular by domestic flights and tourism over the summer. Passenger numbers in August at Toulon (down 35% on August 2019), Rennes (down 50%) and Nantes (down 58%) reflect this momentum, although it slowed down in September.
- The very strict entry requirements in force in Cambodia, in addition to the severe restrictions on international travel from China, stifled any significant recovery in passenger numbers, which in Q3 was down 96.2% year on year.
- In the US, Orlando-Sanford airport took advantage of the relatively strong demand for domestic flights and the resilience of the airline Allegiant. Passenger numbers were down 62.0% in the third quarter.
- In Brazil, passenger numbers at Salvador airport slumped 75.2% in Q3. There was however a gradual increase in traffic over the quarter, driven primarily by the new GOL base set up in July. The airline announced it was opening 48 weekly flights to six new destinations in the country. The improvement in numbers over September (down 64.6% on September 2019, compared with a year-on-year drop of 75.5% in August), and good levels of seat occupancy (over 80%) offers a glimpse of the start of a recovery at the airport.
- In Serbia, the decision to open the borders at the end of May helped traffic to recover. Further encouraging signs include the continued improvement, month after month, in passenger numbers (down 84.1% in July, and 69.7% in September). Across the full quarter, passenger numbers at Belgrade airport fell 77.7%.
- In the Dominican Republic, the decision to reopen the country’s borders on 1 July immediately translated into a bounce back in traffic compared with previous months, driven by the return of flights to the US and Europe. Overall, traffic fell 70.4% in Q3, and was down 64.8% in September.
- In Sweden, traffic plunged 84.7% in the third quarter. At the end of August, Wizz Air announced it would open new routes from the airport to Krakow, Riga and Vilnius.
- In Costa Rica, Q3 traffic was close to zero (down 99.6%) due to the complete closure of the country’s borders until 1 August.
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