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19 million passengers at Brussels Airport in 2022, twice as many as in 2021 – 776,000 tonnes of cargo transported


19 million passengers at Brussels Airport in 2022, twice as many as in 2021 – 776,000 tonnes of cargo transported

Passenger traffic in 2022 was up 102% on 2021 with almost 19 million passengers travelling through Brussels Airport or 72% of pre-crisis numbers. Following a first half-year impacted by Covid travel restrictions, passenger numbers showed a strong recovery in the second half-year with several months exceeding 80% of the 2019 figures. By contrast, after a record year in 2021 (+30%), cargo traffic saw an 8% drop in its volumes in 2022, with a total of 776,000 tonnes carried.  

“After two complicated years, marked by the Covid crisis and the travel restrictions it entailed, Brussels Airport posted very strong growth in 2022. We are proud to have been able to manage this growth by offering a high-quality service to our passengers, who rediscovered the joys of travelling, whether for their holidays, family reunions or business trips,” explains Arnaud Feist, CEO Brussels Airport“Since last summer, our network has been almost completely rebuilt and for several months we attained 80% of the 2019 passenger figures. The year 2023 looks promising with new destinations and increased frequencies for both short and long-haul flights. Brussels Airport’s cargo area has also done well this year after a record-breaking 2021.” 

Passenger numbers up by 102% on 2021

In 2022, 18,930,698 passengers travelled through Brussels Airport. This represents an increase of 102% compared to 2021 (9.4 million passengers), reaching almost 72% of the 2019 level (26.4 million passengers).

After a first half of the year still heavily impacted by Covid-related travel restrictions, holiday traffic, as well as travel to visit friends and relatives, picked up during the summer months to reach over 80% of pre-Covid traffic from July to October. From the autumn onwards, a tangible upturn in business travel was also observed, as well as a growth in the number of connecting passengers at Brussels Airport, marking a significant recovery in the hub activity linked to Brussels Airlines and its Star Alliance partners.

Traffic levels were negatively impacted by the three nationwide protests (in June, November and December), resulting in an estimated loss of nearly 100,000 passengers over the year.

The share of outbound transfer passengers was 15% compared to 18% in 2019, the recovery being particularly marked during the second half of the year.

The top ten most visited countries in 2022 were Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Portugal, the USA, France, Greece, the UK and Morocco. Turkey, Greece and Morocco even surpassed the record 2019 results.

December saw 1.457 million passengers, 77% of the number recorded in 2019. After hitting over 80% of the 2019 figures for four consecutive months, the months of November and December traditionally attract fewer holidaymakers. As was the case for the nationwide protests on 9 November, the national industrial action day on 16 December also had a negative impact of around 30,000 passengers. The start of the Christmas holidays also meant that there were more departing passengers than arriving passengers during the month.

Cargo: 8% decrease compared to 2021, after the strong increase in 2021 (+30%)

In 2022, the cargo volumes at Brussels Airport totalled 775,721 tonnes, down by 8% compared to 2021 and up by 16% compared to 2019. Flown cargo volumes fell by 7% compared to 2021 and increased by 24% compared to 2019. This decrease compared to 2021 is explained by a record year in 2021 (+30%) for the Brussels Airport cargo area.

In the full freighter segment, we also saw a 13% downturn compared to the same period in 2021 but a 78% increase compared to 2019. Belly cargo on the other hand increased by 27% compared to 2021 (but remains down by 22% on the 2019 figures), due to the continued increase in the number of passenger flights. Finally, the integrator segment fell by 13% compared to 2021, but was still 24% up compared to 2019. In general, cargo volumes were under pressure all year round due to ongoing geopolitical tensions, lockdowns in China, the threat of a recession and its impact on e-commerce.

In December, cargo transport at Brussels Airport dropped by 7% compared to December 2021. Downturns were also recorded in the full freighter segment (-9%), in the integrator segment (-12%) and in the trucked cargo segment (-9%). Due to the gradual increase in the number of passenger flights, the cargo volumes on board these aircraft increased by 9% compared to December 2021.


The number of flight movements in 2022 increased by 51% compared to 2021, totalling to 178,930 flight movements, but remaining 24% below the pre-crisis 2019 figures. The number of passenger flights rose sharply by 73% compared to 2021, a year marked by numerous restrictions, bringing the number of passenger flights to 69% of the 2019 figures. The number of passengers per flight is 135, an increase of almost 4% compared to 2019.
A record for Brussels Airport and further confirmation of the deployment of larger, more modern and quieter aircraft and improved occupancy rates.

In 2022, the number of cargo flights decreased by 10% compared to 2021.

In December, 13,642 flight movements were recorded at Brussels Airport, an increase of 8% compared to December 2021. The number of passenger flights hit 72% of the 2019 figure.  The number of passengers per flight averaged 137, up 6% on December 2019. The number of cargo flights was up 34% on 2019 but fell by 15% compared to 2021.


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CPH: 22.1 million passengers passed through the airport in 2022


CPH: 22.1 million passengers passed through the airport in 2022

With 22.1 million passengers and 160 destinations on the route map, years of dramatic decline came to an end, and 2022 became a turning point for Copenhagen Airport. One in ten passengers travelled to Spain, which was the most popular destination of the year. On the long-haul routes, the United States made a real comeback with almost 800,000 travellers. 

The year ended on a high and a clear upward trend for CPH with 1.7 million passengers in December, and more than eight out of ten travellers are now back compared to the last normal year pre-Covid.

“Once again, the terminals echo with the hustle and bustle of expectation – not least near the gates of departures to European destinations. The winter months are traditionally less busy, but we expect a spring and a summer with even more passengers than in 2022,” says Peter Krogsgaard, Chief Commercial Officer of Copenhagen Airports A/S.

Compared to 2021, the number of travellers more than doubled in 2022 – from 9.1 million to 22.1 million. The busiest day of the year was 27 July with 89,000 summer travellers. By contrast, the quietest day was 18 January at the height of the Omicron outbreak, when CPH served 16,000 passengers.

The route network has been restored
The airlines at CPH are once again fully operational, with 59 different airlines flying on 315 routes to 160 destinations throughout the year.

“We’ve collaborated closely with the airlines to restart air traffic, and today all the major European routes are back in service, although generally with slightly fewer departures,” says Krogsgaard.

Several new airlines started operating out of CPH in 2022, including the Icelandic company Nice Air, the Greek airline Sky Express and Montenegro Air.

The United States made a real comeback
While domestic and European routes are approaching pre-pandemic levels with indices of 88 and 83, long-haul intercontinental routes are still lagging behind slightly, but they are making progress. In December, the index for intercontinental traffic stood at 75, in contrast to the winter months when it was around 22–24.

“On the long-haul routes, we note that the United States in particular is back in earnest and all routes have reopened. The United States came in at number ten on the list of the most popular destinations with just under 800,000 passengers – both American tourists and business people coming to Copenhagen and travellers from Denmark and southern Sweden going on one of the eight direct routes we offer to North America,” Krogsgaard explains.

This January, CPH offers direct flights to New York, Washington, Miami, Boston, Chicago, Toronto, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In addition, a direct route to Montreal will open later in the year.

Now just Asia is missing. Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the closure of the airspace, many air routes to Asia have become longer and more expensive. One of the consequences is that the route to Tokyo has been put on hold temporarily. Add to this, the current Covid-19 situation in China.

Spain tops the list of the most popular destinations in 2022
In Europe, Spain remains the most popular travel destination – whether that is Madrid, Barcelona, Málaga and Alicante or Mallorca and the Canary Islands.

“Spain has everything: large cities, culture, beaches, and even in winter, there is sunshine and warm weather in the south of Spain and the Canary Islands. There were 2.2 million passengers on the Spanish routes last year – that’s one in ten passengers, which is really quite impressive,” Krogsgaard explains.

Taking the second spot on the list of popular destinations is the UK with two million passengers. This is mainly driven by the fact that London is once again the most popular destination by far with 1.5 million passengers.

Brighter times ahead
The excellent finish to 2022 also heralds the end of the bleakest period in aviation history. In spring 2020, CPH went from serving 83,000 travellers on an average day to just 424 on 9 April 2020. It took until the summer of 2021 before things began to improve with the introduction of the Covid Status Certificate and the definite signs that the world was slowly reopening.

“As the figures show, the lifting of the travel restrictions in spring 2022 really unleashed our appetite for travel. Now we’re hit again by global uncertainty and inflation, but so far our need and wish to fly out into the world on holiday and business remains unaffected. That’s why we’re expecting a busy 2023,” says Krogsgaard.

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After losing almost DKK 1.5 billion over two years CPH turns a small profit in Q3


After losing almost DKK 1.5 billion over two years CPH turns a small profit in Q3

Copenhagen Airports has for the first time since 2020 posted a profit of DKK 234 million before tax for the third quarter and an overall profit for the first nine months of the year of DKK 221 million. The billion-kroner debt built up due to COVID-19 however remains a challenge to the ambition to invest in the future.

With 16 million travellers, 275 routes to choose from and a profit before tax of DKK 221 million for the first nine months of 2022, Copenhagen Airports is emerging from the worst crisis in recent memory.

“Despite renewed uncertainty fuelled by the energy crisis, war, inflation, and the risk of new COVID-19 variants, we expect a profit for the year in the DKK 125-225 million range. The aviation industry is emerging from the crisis despite several dark clouds looming on the horizon. Things are improving, but we are definitely not there yet,” says Thomas Woldbye, CEO of Copenhagen Airports.

CPH ended the third quarter of 2022 with a profit before tax of DKK 234 million, an improvement over the DKK 159 million profit for the second quarter and significantly better than the DKK 171 million loss reported for the first quarter.

“In the first two, extremely challenging, years of the pandemic, we accumulated a loss before tax just short of DKK 1.5 billion. Against that backdrop, our third-quarter performance and the DKK 221 million profit for the first nine months of 2022 is satisfactory,” says Thomas Woldbye.

Revenue for the third quarter landed at DKK 1,071 million, a 71% improvement on the same period of 2021. Total revenue for the nine-month period was DKK 2,621 million. This is still 21% below 2019, the last normal pre-pandemic year.

Terminals and runways teeming with activity

The terminals are once again busy as eight in ten travellers are back and new stores and restaurants have opened or reopened.

The route networks are also on the way to being restored.  At the end of the third quarter, passengers were flown to and from 144 destinations, corresponding to index 89 compared with 2019. The passenger number is expected to reach 22 million by the end of 2022, compared with 30.3 million in 2019.

“Airlines have regained a good foothold here at CPH, and many destinations are served by more than one carrier. We currently count 275 routes to 144 destinations – which is in fact a few more than before the pandemic. Also, the aircrafts are flying at close to full capacity again, with eight in ten seats being sold,” says Thomas Woldbye.

When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Copenhagen Airports employed just under 2,700 people. After 800 redundancies and significant cost cuts, passengers began to return this year, and with them the need for more hands and heads. Today, the headcount at CPH is about 2,350.

“We managed the rapid increase in flights and passengers this past spring and summer reasonably well and have hired more than 500 new employees,” says Thomas Woldbye.

The growing desire to travel has created lots of new jobs and lots of activity throughout the airport. From the low point in September 2021, the number of employees at the nearly 1,000 businesses operating in and around the airport has grown by 3,300 from 12,800 to about 16,100 today.

“The airport is the base of one of Denmark’s largest financial ecosystems, and its value creation goes far beyond our own organisation. It is important for the Danish economy that the business is back up to speed. More than 3,300 jobs have been created in and around the airport in the past year,” explains Thomas Woldbye.

The debt has to be repaid

In the first two years of the crisis, CPH borrowed a total of DKK 2.2 billion to keep the airports running and to make the necessary investments.

“We have to repay this debt and at the same time we need to be able to invest in the sustainable airport of the future and retain our position as an important northern European air traffic hub. That is a very big challenge,” says Thomas Woldbye.

He emphasises that Copenhagen Airport must continue to have competitive prices.

“It is difficult to see how we can avoid becoming more expensive, if we are to be able to invest and repay the debt” says Thomas Woldbye.

Investments for the future

Investments for the year are expected to be in the region of approximately DKK 950-1,000 million.

“We still have ambitions to invest in the airport in the coming years, however, that will depend on our ability to do so. Regardless of the crisis, we have so far been able to continue our ambitious project to extend the airside terminal area, for example to create extra space for the baggage reclaim area, airport travellers and passport control,” says Thomas Woldbye.

The future of the project depends on sufficient compensation for costs and investments in connection with the aeronautical infrastructure.

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