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Gradual recovery of passenger flights at Brussels Airport in June


Gradual recovery of passenger flights at Brussels Airport in June

Full-freighter volumes up by +71.5%!

Brussels Airport is delighted and relieved to be welcoming passengers again since 15 June for non-essential, and mainly leisure, travel. Although recovery is slow and gradual, the trend is on the up as the choice of destinations increases week after week. Last June, which was a month of transition, Brussels Airport recorded a 96.5% drop in passenger numbers, compared to the same month last year. Cargo, on the other hand, and particularly the full-freighter segment, continues its growth, recording a 71.5% increase in full-freighter volumes in June. This sector is running full speed, while passenger activity is gradually picking up during this strange summer.

Passenger travel: A gradual but encouraging recovery

In June, 83,589 passengers passed through Brussels Airport, representing a decrease of -96.5% compared to June 2019. This decrease, which is slightly less than the past two months, can be explained by the small-scale resumption of passenger activity for all types of travel since 15 June. Therefore, although the decrease was 98.7% in the first week of June, it was ‘only’ 93.2% in the last week. The number of passengers departing and arriving has respectively dropped by -95.9 and -97.2%. In June, we went from around a hundred flights per week in the first half of the month, to around 500 flights per week since 15 June. In the whole month of June, 1,146 flights were carried out. First for essential travel and then for non-essential travel, mainly towards European destinations.

Cargo: very significant increase in full cargo and stability in the volumes carried

In June, cargo volumes at Brussels Airport showed only a very slight decrease (-0.5%) year-on-year. Air cargo volumes even increased by +4.8% for the first time since the start of the crisis. This result is much more positive than the global trend since, worldwide, freight volume is dropping by an average -25%, largely due to the very steep decrease in belly cargo, i.e. the cargo on board of passenger aircraft, which accounts for 50% of the volumes transported around the world.
Express volumes were up by +29.5%, while full cargo volumes grew by +71.5%. These spectacular increases compensate for the lack of belly capacity (-90,5%). Additional flights are operated by modern full cargo planes, as well as passenger aircraft which are converted for freight transport. These additional flights operate mainly during the day.


In June 2020, the total number of flight movements, dropped to 3,957, an 81.1% decrease from the 20,895 flights recorded in June 2019. The number of passenger flights decreased by -93.7% due to the coronavirus crisis, while the number of cargo flights increased by +45.9%.

100 destinations at the beginning of July, 140 in August

In the first half of July, no less than 100 destinations are served from Brussels Airport by around forty airlines These are essentially European destinations linked to the opening of borders. As a result, Spain, Italy, Greece, France and Portugal are holidaymakers’ preferred countries of destination. In August, this offer should increase to 140 destinations from Brussels Airport.

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Limited impact of coronavirus on the February passenger numbers, the next few months look set to be more challenging. Brussels Airport is continuing to inform, sensitise and prepare all players at the airport.


Limited impact of coronavirus on the February passenger numbers, the next few months look set to be more challenging. Brussels Airport is continuing to inform, sensitise and prepare all players at the airport.

In February, Brussels Airport welcomed over 1.7 passengers, up 6% rise on February 2019. However, this result should be put in perspective, in amongst other things because of the shift of the mid-term break and the leap year. Without this, growth would have been negative. The next few months will show a bigger impact, in particular due to the cancellation of numerous flights to Italy. Against this background, Brussels Airport is ramping up its efforts to inform, sensitise and prepare all of the airport’s stakeholders, in keeping with the directives issued by the FPS Public Health.

“The aviation industry is going through difficult times,” explains Brussels Airport Company’s CEO Arnaud Feist. ‘Brussels Airport’s performance during the month of February fell below the forecasts as result of the impact of the coronavirus. With numerous flights cancelled, the effects will be felt more severely in the months of March and April. We are continuing our efforts to inform, raise awareness among and prepare all of the stakeholders operating at the airport’s, to put in place any additional specific measures required by the FPS Public Health. We are confident that the industry will overcome this crisis, even though it is certain to have economic repercussions for much of the year, in particular on the business travel segment.’


Last month, 1,738,988 passengers passed through Brussels Airport, which represents a 6% rise compared to the same month last year. This growth is seen both in the number of originating passengers and in the number of transfer passengers. It is worth pointing out however that February 2019 witnessed a nationwide strike on 13 February which kept all aircraft on the ground. February 2020 in turn had an extra day (29/02) as well as the mid-term break, which in last year fell in March. Which to a large extent explains last month’s results. The effects of the coronavirus are making themselves especially felt on the flights bound for China and Italy.
As such, the result for February as a whole is lower than forecasted. Without the effect of the leap day and the mid-term break, growth would have been negative. The first indications for March point towards a substantial decline in passenger numbers, particularly in the business travel segment.


In February, the freight volume carried at Brussels Airport totalled 51,343 tonnes, which is a slight 1.6% drop compared to February 2019. Same as for the passenger flights, the impact of the coronavirus has mainly affected the flights from and to Asia. The sector, and the full cargo segment in particular, continues to suffer the effects of the slow-down of the general economic growth. Belly cargo is doing better, same as the express services.

Providing information, raising awareness and preparing all airport stakeholders on how
to deal with the coronavirus

Brussels Airport is in daily contact with the FPS Public Health and scrupulously implements all procedures required. The FPS Public Health confirms there is currently no heightened risk for anyone passing through or working at the airport and stresses the importance of good (hand) hygiene.

Brussels Airport is strongly committed to taking preventive, information delivery and awareness-raising measures aimed at its passengers, staff and partners, notably through its internal and external communication channels. Daily meetings with the airport’s various operational partners allow the very latest information to be exchanged. The health and safety officers of the companies operating at Brussels Airport have also been attending these meetings and information sessions. As such, they and their teams are ready to roll out the relevant actions in the field if necessary.

As an airport, Brussels Airport is ready to quickly implement any additional measures as may be decided by the FPS Public Health. On the strength of its previous experience, particularly with the Ebola virus, Brussels Airport is ready to act immediately and to coordinate efforts to handle such a situation as effectively as possible in tandem with the various stakeholders.

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CPH annual report: Challenges on the journey towards sustainable aviation


CPH annual report: Challenges on the journey towards sustainable aviation

Copenhagen Airport is undergoing rapid change on our journey towards sustainable aviation. However, our business is under pressure, and the recent years investments at about DKK 2 billion per year are substantially higher than the earnings. Profit before tax fell by 8.7% in 2019 to almost DKK 1.3 billion.

It was a busy year for Copenhagen Airport in 2019 as passenger numbers on the 188 direct routes reached close to 30.3 million. That meant 82,895 travellers passing through the terminals on an average day on their way to or home from a vacation or a business trip.

 “Connecting the world through air transport not only creates cultural and social value. Every single air route creates wealth for all of Denmark, so we shouldn’t fly less. But we should fly sustainably and with climate considerations,” said Thomas Woldbye, CEO of Copenhagen Airports A/S.

 Europe’s most efficient airport

CPH reached a milestone on 4 June 2019 when H.R.H. Crown Prince Frederik inaugurated Pier E, a DKK 2 billion project for a new terminal building that provides more space for travellers and large modern aircraft on long-haul routes out of Europe.

 SAS has decided to base the company’s new fleet of eight modern, fuel-efficient and quiet Airbus A350 aircraft at Copenhagen Airport. At the same time, the direct route to Los Angeles has been moved from Stockholm to Copenhagen.

 “We would like to thank SAS for trusting in us and strengthening Copenhagen Airport’s position as the Nordic region’s most important hub,” says Thomas Woldbye.

 SAS is the largest airline in CPH with 33% of traffic. Norwegian follows with 17%, Ryanair with 8% and easyJet with 6%. Ryanair and easyJet saw passenger growth in 2019 of 20.6% and 4.3% respectively.

 “We work closely with all airlines to have an attractive airport and ensure that the operation at Copenhagen Airport is as efficient as possible for all parties,” says Thomas Woldbye.

 In 2019, CPH was named Europe’s most efficient airport for the 14th time out of 16 possible by the Air Transport Research Society (ATRS).

 Business under pressure

However, the business of Copenhagen Airport A/S is under growing pressure, and about DKK 2 billion has been invested annually in recent years to develop the airport.

 “These are record investments that are much higher than our current profit before tax. That is not a sustainable situation in the long term,” said Woldbye.

 The CPH cash flows have come even more under pressure due to global economic uncertainty, Brexit, trade wars and the corona virus.

 “We aim to continue investing in the Airport of the Future and to improve Denmark’s international connectivity through direct routes to all parts of the world. The plan is to develop the airport as passenger numbers increase. However, in light of the growing global economic uncertainty, all of the planned investments may not be possible given the cash flows available. That is proper diligence and due care,” said Thomas Woldbye.

 As a result, CPH will assess and amend the level of investments according to the general economic development and risk situation.

 “If we are to succeed, we will need as stable a framework and as predictable a financial platform as possible. Climatic and financial sustainability is essential for the airport,” said Woldbye.

 Drop in revenue and lower dividend

Profit before tax for 2019 fell by 8.7% to almost DKK 1.3 billion, primarily due to a drop in charges paid by the airlines for using the airport’s infrastructure and services.

 That is in line with the guidance provided in the Q3 2019 report.

 The aeronautical business was marked by lower charges paid by airlines for using the airport. Charges were lowered 10% in 2018 and by another 5% in 2019.

 In addition, traffic at the airport was affected by [a number of] bankruptcies, a seven-day strike by SAS pilots and by Norwegian’s new strategy of focusing on profitability rather than growth. Aeronautical revenue was down by 6.2% to DKK 2.4 billion.

 The non-aeronautical business is based on, among other things, rental income, concession revenue from parking and the shopping centre. Overall, the non-aeronautical revenue for the year was up by 3.2% to DKK 1,930.5 million.

 CPH’s overall revenue fell by 2.2% to DKK 4,345.7 million (2018: DKK 4,444.8 million).

 Historically, CPH have met the shareholders’ expectations of dividend payments, including that of the Danish state, and has annually distributed 100% of the net profit; but in light of the situation with the global economic uncertainty, lower charges and a very high level of investments, the Board of Directors have decided to recommend to the Annual General Meeting that no dividend will be paid for the second half of 2019.

 For the first half of 2019, dividends of 50% of the half-year result were paid. Thus, for the full financial year 2019, a total dividend of 23.3% is paid. The dividend policy to pay out 100% of the company’s result over time is maintained.

 Accelerating the green transition

Woldbye emphasises that the airport’s financial strength and the necessary green transition are inextricably linked. CPH accelerated the transition in 2019, involving everything from solar panels and energy savings to adding new electric vehicles.

 The airport operations were certified as carbon neutral by Airports Council International. This is the highest level of certification under the ACA programme (Airport Carbon Accreditation). The accreditation is based both on CPH’s own climate and environmental efforts and through a certified climate project in Laos. The next target is to make airport operations completely emissions-free by 2030.

 In 2019, the Danish aviation industry teamed up to launch a climate initiative based on the ambition to make Danish aviation a zero-emissions industry by 2050.

 “Through the proposal to establish the Aviation Climate Foundation and active participation in the Danish government’s climate partnership with the aviation industry, we can work with scientists, policy-makers and climate organisations to chart the direction and accelerate the transition to sustainable aviation,” said Woldbye.

 New strategy: Architects of the future Airport

In 2019, CPH launched a strategy for the airport of the future: Architects of the future Airport.

 “While building on our existing platform of efficient and safe operations, our new strategy is also focus on our role in society, sustainable developments and on taking the passenger experience to the next level,” said Woldbye.

 “We must focus even more on passengers, the airlines and all our other customers. We need to innovate and simplify, making everyday things easier and providing an even better experience for all the airport users,” he said.

 CPH has identified a number of core areas – a range of take-offs to drive innovation and change. Their focal points include sustainable aviation, engaging stakeholders and neighbours even more in creating the airport of the future, accelerating digitalisation and developing the jobs and skills of the future.

 New master plan for the airport of the future

Also in 2019, CPH submitted an application to the authorities to enact new legislation that would constitute the framework for the continued development and sustainable transition to the airport for the future.

 Supported by SAS, Norwegian and DAT, CPH wants to relocate the rarely used third runway – the cross-wind runway. This will free up space for the modern fuel-efficient and less noisy aircraft types of the future.

 According to our new “master plan” CPH will develop the airport within the current area, with all facilities under one roof and with the shortest possible walking distances to gates and public transport.

 An approval of the “master plan” is one vital part among several providing CPH with the operational framework that enables a continued green transformation of the industry.

 All-time high passenger satisfaction

The year ended with good news. According to the international Airport Service Quality (ASQ*) survey conducted at more than 350 airports the world over, the passenger satisfaction rate at Copenhagen Airport improved from 81% to a record 86% of passengers saying they are satisfied or very satisfied with the service, the facilities and their passage through the airport.

 Woldbye believes that the passenger satisfaction rate is a direct and measurable result of the many new facilities and the excellent service offered to passengers at Copenhagen Airport by the airlines, the police the customs authorities, the groundhandlers’ check-in and baggage handling staff, shop and restaurant staff and by CPH’s own staff in areas such as cleaning and the security checkpoint.

 “All of these good efforts bode well for the future and for everyone working together to create a sustainable airport that also future generations can be proud of,” said Woldbye.

 Outlook for 2020

Global aviation is under pressure from amongst other factors economic uncertainty, climate change and the recent outbreak of Coronavirus COVID-19.

 The Corona outbreak significantly affects the number of flights – both in terms of holiday and business travel. Airlines have announced they are cancelling and reducing operations in line with declining demand.

 Due to the great uncertainty COVID-19 has created for air travel in Denmark and the rest of the world and uncertainty about the duration of the situation, it is currently not possible to make a reasonable assessment of the financial impact of the Coronavirus at this time. Hence, it is not possible to give an outlook for revenue, profit before tax and total investments.

 As a consequence, CPH will continuously assess and adjust the level of operational costs and investments.

Click here to download the Annual Report: https://www.cph.dk/en/about-cph/investor/publications

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