Bordeaux Airport 2020 review (70.6% fewer passengers) and outlook for 2021

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2020 has been marked by the health crisis, ending on unprecedented poor results for the aviation sector. Although the uncertainties and restrictions linked to the crisis have severely limited air traffic – in terms both of the number of routes and frequency of flights – efficient management was able to adapt airport strategy rapidly and implement several projects for its services, infrastructure and the environment.

2021 will undoubtedly mark a turning point in the history of Bordeaux Airport. The main priority is to boost aviation activities while addressing the key challenges of safeguarding jobs and supporting the regional economy, and also respecting commitments towards the environment and enhanced airport security.

Since 14 January 2021, Thierry Couloumiès, Administrative, Financial and Human Resources Director, has taken over as interim Chairman of the Management Board, which also includes the Commercial Development Director, Jean-Luc Poiroux, and Technical Operations Director, Stéphane Teulé-Gay.

The Supervisory Board of SA Bordeaux Mérignac Airport has confirmed the company’s roadmap: strategic and operational priority will be given to restoring growth in traffic, safeguarding jobs and pursuing our sustainable development goals for the benefit of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. In the current context of economic uncertainty, the emphasis will also be on the relationship with the airport’s customers and institutional partners.

The 2021-2023 Resilience and Recovery Plan aims to invest €43 million over the period, including €8 million on the environment.

Air traffic in 2020

With 2.3 million passengers in 2020, traffic at Bordeaux Airport was down by 70.6% on 2019, as a result of the health crisis and successive travel restrictions imposed since last March. The airport had no fewer than 56 days without any commercial passenger flights.

Quite logically, international traffic was hardest hit with a decline of 76.5% to 1,082,000 registered passengers. The major intercontinental hubs were severely affected by the crisis and performed poorly: Amsterdam (-67.4%), Barcelona (-85.2%), Lisbon (-73.4%), Madrid (-78.5%) and Zurich (-86%).

Flights to the four London airports served from Bordeaux, which had totalled more than 524,000 passengers last year, collapsed by almost 81% (101,000 passengers), despite the excellent news that British Airways was opening services to and from its Heathrow intercontinental hub from last summer.

Scheduled connections to Brussels South Charleroi, Geneva, Basel, Marrakesh and Fez were the only destinations to post above-average results.

In addition, some tourist destinations such as Granada, Fuerteventura, Mykonos, Porto, Prague, Tenerife or Vienna, experienced a smaller decline.

Domestic flights were also affected, but to a lesser extent. With a decrease of “only” 61.9%, domestic traffic accounted for 1,171,000 passengers and moved back ahead of international traffic for the first time since 2016.

Paris was the airport’s leading destination and ended the year on 400,150 passengers transported, down 67% on 2019. Of course, the impact of the shutdown of Air France’s La Navette Paris-Orly shuttle service (566,000 passengers in 2019), a result of the aid granted to the national airline, and Air France’s termination of its flights between Bordeaux and Lille, profoundly affected the traffic results of Bordeaux Airport.

The results for the main domestic routes, such as those of Lyon, Marseille, Nice and Strasbourg, were in line with the general trend, with decreases of between 53% and 66%. In addition, it is important to note that despite the situation, destinations such as Corsica were in higher demand last summer. The routes to the island (Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi, Figari) taken as a whole were down by only 30% compared to 2019.

After the end of the first lockdown last May, and again at the end of the year during the festive season, easing of the national guidelines allowed a certain level of activity to be restored. During the peak of these periods, almost 60% of the 2019 network of routes from Bordeaux was operated. It is an excellent result and proof that the airline companies were willing to reopen their lines as quickly as possible once the conditions allowed.

easyJet becomes the airport’s leading airline in terms of passenger numbers (740,000), followed by Air France/KLM (682,000), Ryanair (400,000) and Volotea (194,000).  Among the scheduled airlines, Air Arabia held up the best, with its traffic dropping by only 38%, followed by KLM with its route to its Amsterdam “hub” (-62%) and Royal Air Maroc to Casablanca (-63%).

In view of the above, traffic at Bordeaux Airport became largely “low cost” in 2020. The low-cost airlines accounted for 62% of the airport’s overall traffic.

In terms of aircraft movements, the results were in line with the traffic figures. In 2020, 23,318 commercial aircraft movements were recorded at Bordeaux-Mérignac airport, a decrease of 65.1%, from 66,794 flights in 2019.

Nevertheless, as some business aviation operations made up for some of the shortfall in scheduled services and, at the same time, industrial activity was relatively strong, the total number of aircraft movements was down by only 53.9%, or 38,840 flights against the total figure of 84,331 in 2019.

Flawless operational continuity

Despite this unprecedented crisis, Bordeaux Airport succeeded in adapting and putting all the necessary measures in place for the safety of its passengers and staff, as well as ensuring the continuity of its activity when the period allowed. The airport remained fully operational at all times, even during periods of lockdown, thus allowing uninterrupted cargo and express freight activity, as well as medical flights on several occasions.

Freight activity for the year was down slightly (-19.9%) with 20,142 tonnes transported, compared to 25,144 in 2019.

A “continuity plan” was triggered during the first lockdown period in March. As a result, employees who did not have an essential role on the airport site were able to work from home, and health measures to safeguard the safety of passengers and employees were put in place, including mandatory wearing of a face mask, installation of hand-sanitiser dispensers and signage to help with social distancing, enhanced cleaning of contact areas, reorganisation of the queuing system, and the installation of plexiglass panels at information, check-in and boarding desks. These measures all helped to restore traffic outside the national lockdown periods.

In partnership with the Regional Health Agency, Bordeaux University Hospital and the Civil Protection teams, the airport set up a PCR screening centre within its terminal from July for all travellers arriving and departing. This centre has made a significant contribution to the airport’s activity, allowing travellers to obtain a PCR test prior to their journey to the destinations where it was required. As of the beginning of this year, this screening centre is still active in Hall A.

Projects central to the strategy

In 2020, despite the context, Bordeaux Airport continued to work on a number of projects.

Hall A

Work on the future international hub resumed quickly and is now in its final phase. Named “Satellite 3”, it will become the first high-environmental-quality facility and will be delivered by mid-2021. The renovation and extension of the Alpha aircraft parking area which is adjacent to it has been completed.

Security
In addition to work on the infrastructure, there are also many projects on security. The “Parafe” biometric recognition equipment at border checkpoints – also aimed at creating a smoother passenger experience – has been operational since the summer. The full renovation of the airport’s video-protection and runway-side surveillance systems and equipment also began in 2020.

The environment 
With the renewal of ISO 9001 certification for quality and customer satisfaction, the award of ISO 14001 certification for environmental management at the end of 2020, a variety of studies and surveys, the start of work on planting vegetation in the car parks, the installation of charging stations for electric vehicles and further deployment of systems that are less energy-intensive, much was done in the course of the year on biodiversity and the energy transition.

Particular attention was paid to the municipalities bordering the airport, in meetings to draw up the General Composition Scheme which is scheduled for completion in 2021 and of the Advisory Committee on the Environment, and also through a new system for monitoring aircraft trajectories and noise levels, with transcription on the airport’s website (bordeaux.aeroport.fr).

Resilience and Recovery Plan 2021-2023

In 2021, in addition to the need to ensure the operational continuity of the airport platform, the main objective will be to restore activities on a lasting basis, with the fundamental challenge being to support the economy and safeguard jobs. This will be managed in accordance with our commitments to the environment and enhanced airport security.

Hall B
Work will begin this year to replace the monumental facades of Hall B on the city side. In addition to making the necessary technical and safety-related changes to this architectural design dating from 1996, the work will also enhance energy performance, while retaining its aesthetic features.

billi terminal
Even though the final phase of the terminal’s initial transformation program had to be suspended, reflection is underway on how to improve the operating conditions of the “billi” low-cost terminal and adapt it to social distancing requirements, while also allowing six flights to be managed simultaneously. In order to do so, the capacity of the pre-boarding rooms will be extended.

Intermodal access  
Starting in January 2021, work will continue to accommodate the future intermodal station at the foot of Hall B, as well as the tracks for the tram, which is scheduled to arrive in 2022, and the commissioning of the Technobus service in its definitive form. These developments will concern the new exit lanes of the P0 car park, the access lanes to the South-West Civil Aviation Authority building and the necessary redevelopment of the forecourt.

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