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Frankfurt Airport reports 32% upturn in passengers in 2021


Frankfurt Airport handled 24.8 million passengers in 2021 – a 32% increase on 2020 when global passenger numbers plummeted amid the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

After the third lockdown in May 2021, the easing of travel restrictions led to a noticeable recovery in demand for air travel, reveals airport operator, Fraport AG.

In particular, it notes, this positive trend was driven by European holiday traffic during the summer season. Beginning in the autumn, passenger numbers were also boosted by intercontinental traffic again. The recovery slowed somewhat towards the end of 2021, due to the emergence of the new virus variant.

Compared with the 2019, Frankfurt Airport’s passenger throughput in 2021 was down 64.8% on pre-COVID levels.

Commenting on the traffic figures, Fraport’s CEO, Dr Stefan Schulte, said: “Throughout 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to have a massive impact on Frankfurt Airport.

“Passenger traffic recovered gradually in the course of the year – even rising threefold in the April-to-December 2021 period compared to 2020. But we are still far away from the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

“Cargo traffic, in contrast, saw very positive growth in 2021. Airfreight volumes in Frankfurt even reached a new annual record, despite the ongoing shortage of belly capacity on passenger flights and other challenges. This underscores our role as one of Europe’s leading cargo hubs.”

FRA’s aircraft movements in 2021 climbed by 23.4% year-on-year to 261,927 takeoffs and landings (2019 comparison: down 49%). Accumulated maximum takeoff weights or MTOWs grew by 18.9% year-on-year to some 17.7 million metric tons (2019 comparison: down 44.5%).

Cargo throughput, comprising airfreight and airmail, increased significantly by 18.7% year-on-year to about 2.32 million tonnes – the highest annual volume ever achieved in the history of Frankfurt Airport (2019 comparison: up 8.9%).

A breakdown by the two cargo subcategories reveals that airfreight was the main driver behind this growth, while airmail continued to be affected by the lack of belly capacity on passenger aircraft.

Regarding the traffic outlook for 2022, Schulte noted: “The situation for our business will remain highly volatile and dynamic in 2022. At this stage, no one can reliably predict how the pandemic will evolve over the coming months.

“The related – and often inconsistent – travel restrictions will continue to put a heavy strain on the aviation industry. Despite these uncertainties, we are taking an optimistic view of the year ahead. We are expecting air travel demand to rebound noticeably again in the spring.”

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