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Passenger traffic rises 17% at Hamburg Airport in 2021


Hamburg has become one of the first airports in the world to reveal its year-end traffic figures for 2021 – the German gateway handling 5.3 million passengers (+17%) last year.

And although the total is almost 70% down on 2019 levels, the airport says that last year’s throughput, compared to 2020, represents a “positive” upturn.

The total number of aircraft movements in 2021 also rose by 5%, rising from 66,300 take-offs and landings in 2020 to around 69,500 last year.

However, despite this largely positive development, the airport admits that its 2021 traffic figures are “below expectations” as at the start of the year, it announced that it anticipated welcoming around 8.5 million passengers.

The forecast was gradually reduced in the first half of the year, with a sluggish recovery in demand due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

It notes that in the summer of 2021, the anticipated upturn came and traffic figures rose steadily, and that there were increasingly positive indications from the airlines that aviation was bouncing back. Indeed, A380 operations resumed and capacity was increased.

The trend reached its peak in autumn, with 953,000 passengers at Hamburg Airport in October alone – almost a fifth of all passengers for 2021.

Hamburg Airport CEO, Michael Eggenschwiler, says: “It was another difficult year for the aviation industry, and the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be clearly seen in Hamburg Airport’s traffic figures.

“At the same time, we see a faint glimmer of hope: beginning in the summer there was a steady growth in traffic figures, and at peak hours in the autumn holiday period we actually had more passengers than in 2019. The airlines introduced new routes from Hamburg. On top of this, more and more cargo airlines are coming to appreciate our functionally effective ground handling services and our infrastructure.

“This is all good news. Nevertheless, it is still too soon to talk of a turnaround. December was significantly weaker than we had initially anticipated, and this level looks likely to remain steady for the coming months. It’s going to be a hard winter. Aviation was one of the first industries to be hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. it will be one of the last to return to normality.”

Talking about the future, Eggenschwiler, added: “In 2022, we will be focusing on the continual, stable development of our operational functions. Environmental protection is a further area of focus. Here, we achieved an important goal shortly before the end of the year: Our airport operations are CO2 neutral.

“Initial response from within the industry leads us to anticipate up to 60% of 2019 traffic levels in 2022. This optimism is based on an accelerated recovery of traffic beginning at Easter, with around 11 million passengers for 2022 in total.

“This would be around double the number of passengers seen in 2021, a year very much affected by travel restrictions. Just how accurate this forecast is will depend on the development of the pandemic and associated restrictions. Cautious planning therefore remains essential.”

• Pictures courtesy of Hamburg Airport and Oliver Sorg and Michael Penner.

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