PASSENGER NUMBERS TUMBLE AS CORONAVIRUS HITS GLOBAL TRAVEL
Airports across the globe continue to report significant downturns in 2020 passenger numbers due to the impact of the coronavirus – Copenhagen (-0.4%), Frankfurt Airport (-4%), and London Heathrow (-4.8%) being among the latest to announce February declines.
Although Copenhagen’s passenger numbers held up quite well, it felt the pinch on seven of its 10 most popular routes, with London (-4%), Oslo (-7.2%), Stockholm (-4.9%) and Frankfurt (-3.7%) among the worst affected.
It says: “Copenhagen Airport felt the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in February as passenger volumes were slightly down on last year, landing at almost two million travellers. However, the full impact of the outbreak has surfaced in March when passenger volumes dropped by close to one third during the first ten days of the month.
“The main detractors were long-haul intercontinental routes out of Europe, resulting from much fewer departures and lower demand on departures to and from Asia. Towards the end of February, short-haul European routes were also affected, and in early March that trend has sharply accelerated.”
Airport CEO, Thomas Woldbye, admits: “During the first ten days of March, the number of departures and travellers in and out of Denmark have dropped by one third. This is something we’ve never seen before.
“The situation is developing much faster and more dramatically than what happened during the financial crisis, after 9/11, the ash cloud and any other event that has impacted on aviation since the Second World War.”
He notes” “For a small, open economy like Denmark’s, it’s essential to maximise our connectivity to the world. That connectivity is now under threat. It means that the Danish economy could come under pressure if we don’t respond in the right way.
“It’s important that we focus on how we can best minimise the overall costs to Danish society.”
Describing falling passenger numbers at Heathrow, CEO, John Holland-Kaye, says: “The threat of coronavirus is an increasing challenge for the UK and we are working day and night to ensure Britain’s front door is open and safe for our people and passengers.
“We will continue to work with the Government to limit the impacts this will have on UK plc.”
In the case of Frankfurt Airport, operator, Fraport, also attributed February’s drop in passenger numbers to weather related cancellations.
“For the first two months of 2020, accumulated passenger traffic at FRA decreased by 2.3%. Particularly towards the end of February, demand was strongly impacted by the coronavirus outbreak,” reports Fraport.
“In the last February week (February 24 to March 1), passenger volumes dropped by 14.5%, with this negative trend even accelerating in the first week of March. Weather-related flight cancellations due to Storm Ciara/Sabine further impacted traffic in February 2020.”
US President, Donald Trump, today announced travel restrictions on 26 European countries in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus.
However, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) is urging governments to roll back or refrain from introducing travel restrictions as despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports indicating that the COVID-19 outbreak has now spread to over 100 countries, it has repeatedly advised against travel or trade restrictions as such measures, claiming that they are generally ineffective.
AAPA insists that medical experts have stated that it air travel is safe and that to protect the travelling public, the airline industry has been adhering strictly to WHO and IATA guidelines on inflight hygiene and disinfection, including the stepping up of cleaning of aircraft and airline lounges, and the use of hospital grade HEPA air filtration systems on board aircraft.
To date, AAPA says that it is not aware of any reports of COVID-19 infections attributed to inflight transmission.
“AAPA appreciates the leadership of WHO on this issue and calls on governments to fundamentally reconsider the rationale for such travel restrictions and measures, taking into account the disruption caused to people’s livelihoods and the negative repercussions to the wider economy.”