Half a million passengers at Brussels Airport in July, a decrease of 80.8% compared to 2019


120 destinations available in August / Cargo volumes up nearly 10%.

Since the resumption of non-essential flights on 15 June this year, the number of passengers handled at Brussels Airport has risen, but remains 80% below July 2019. This means that, in July, for the first month of the summer holidays, 525,000 passengers passed through Brussels Airport. This result reflects both the desire of many Belgians to go on holiday abroad and the uncertainty linked to the frequent changes in the health situation in several European regions. For its part, freight, and particularly full cargo, continues to make progress, since an increase of +9,9% in air freight volumes was observed in July.

‘The figures for July are in line with our forecasts’, explains Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company. ‘Together with our partners, we have worked hard to attract passengers back to the airport, to inform them about the available flights and to make them aware of the various health measures in force at our airport. It is important for us to offer them a wide choice of destinations, linked to the current travel possibilities, but also to welcome them in a healthy and safe airport. Frequent changes in travel restrictions due to the health situation in certain regions have weighed on this month’s traffic. We are also pleased to note that passengers are complying with health measures and avoiding risky behaviour.’

Passenger travel: A satisfactory first month of the holidays

In line with the forecasts drawn up at the end of June, 525,022 passengers were welcomed at Brussels Airport in July of this year, down by -80.8% compared to July 2019. Of these, 303,222 were departing passengers and 221,800 arriving passengers, a difference that can be explained by the fact that holidaymakers waited until the start of the holiday season to head off. The number of transfer passengers fell by -92.3%, but despite the crisis represents 8% of all departing passengers.

Passengers mainly chose European destinations because of restrictions and bans on travel to non-European destinations. The number of passengers could have been higher if all Mediterranean countries were open for holidays. Destinations such as Morocco, Tunisia or Turkey, which are generally popular for summer holidays, are therefore mainly chosen by passengers who wish to see their families again (travellers must hold the passport of the country in question). The sometimes daily changes in border closures and colour codes also have a negative effect on the number of passengers who are seeking clarity. The volumes stagnated from the third week of July after a promising start to the month.

Note that airlines also carry a lot of freight on passenger flights. Air Canada, United Airlines, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian and Hainan Airlines notably are once again active at Brussels Airport in this context and also welcome passengers for essential journeys.

Cargo: Strong growth in air freight and stability in total volumes transported

For the second consecutive month, air freight saw an increase in volumes transported, up 9.9% compared with July 2019. This result is much more positive than the overall trend since, on a global scale, freight volume is continuing to fall largely due to the very steep decrease in belly cargo, i.e. the cargo on board of passenger aircraft, which covers 50% of the volumes transported around the world.

Express services recorded an increase of +25.3%, while full cargo volumes are increasing by +89%. These strong increases compensate for the lack of freight capacity on board of passenger aircraft (-72%). These additional flights are operated by modern full cargo planes, as well as passenger aircraft which are converted for freight transport. These additional operations are mainly carried out during the day, which means that the number of night flights at Brussels Airport is not increasing.

When truck freight is added (which fell by -28.4%), the volume of cargo transported in July at Brussels Airport amounted to 55,729 tonnes, an increase of +0.3% compared to the same period last year.


The total number of flight movements decreased by -63.7% in July 2020 compared to July 2019, to 8,201 (compared to 22,599 in July 2019). The number of passenger flights decreased by -74.1% due to the coronavirus crisis, while the number of cargo flights increased by +42.7%. The occupancy rate stands at 102 passengers/flight. Occupancy on intercontinental traffic remains low due to travel restrictions.

120 destinations available in August

At the beginning of August, 120 destinations are offered at Brussels Airport by around forty airlines. These are mainly European destinations due to travel restrictions and bans on travel to non-Schengen countries. Spain, Italy, Greece, France and Portugal are the most popular destinations. 700 flights per week are scheduled from Brussels Airport.

Brussels Airport, 07 August 2020


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