Sustained increase in air freight, essential role in COVID vaccine logistics
In November, 233,528 passengers passed through Brussels Airport, representing barely 12% year-on-year. The numerous travel restrictions continue to weaken a sector which is hoping to make a small recovery over the Christmas holidays. Airfreight, meanwhile, is on the rise for the sixth month running. The airport is playing a major role in transporting COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
‘Month after month, passenger traffic, unfortunately, remains at the same level,’ Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company, explains. ‘The crisis is more present than ever with major repercussions on the travel industry. Fortunately, although it can only partly offset the reduction in passenger numbers, the freight sector is running at full capacity and is playing a major role in transporting COVID vaccines. Our pharmaceutical logistics platform has the biggest refrigerated warehousing infrastructure (30,000 m²) in Europe and operates via a network of around 40 logistics partners specialising in transporting pharmaceutical products at a constant temperature. We have the expertise, the infrastructure and the equipment to play a major role in this global public health crisis .’
Passenger traffic: down by 88%.
In November, 233,528 passengers passed through Brussels airport. This represents a decrease of 88% compared to November 2019. The number of transfer passengers was around 19%. The African network and connecting flights operated by Brussels Airlines and its Star Alliance partners from Europe and North America played an important role here.
In November, with the start of the winter season and fewer flights than in summer, 40 passenger airlines were operating out of Brussels Airport, flying to 80 destinations, with on average 50 departures per day. The most active airlines in November were Brussels Airlines, TUI fly, Ryanair, Turkish Airlines, Air Arabia, Lufthansa, United Airlines and KLM.
Freight: ready to transport vaccines
For the sixth consecutive month, air freight saw a significant increase in volumes transported, i.e. + +7% compared to November 2019. Thanks to this result, Brussels Airport continues to outperform global and European air freight growth. The main cause of global negative growth is still the absence of wide-body passenger flights, which severely limits belly cargo capacity. In normal conditions, belly cargo accounts for a considerable share of the freight transported worldwide.
The express services sector experienced strong growth in November year-on-year (+29%). The full cargo segment also increased by 23% compared to the same period in 2019. This largely compensates for the limited volumes on passenger flights.
On the other hand, trucked air freight is down again (-16%), yet the total volume of goods handled by the Brussels Airport logistics platform has still increased by 1.6% in November 2020 to reach 57,570 tonnes.
More than ever, Brussels Airport is deploying its entire logistics chain for the transport of the first COVID-19 vaccines, for both exports and imports. With a wealth of experience in transporting pharmaceutical products, thanks in particular to its 30,000 m² of refrigerated warehousing space, high-tech equipment and around 40 partners operating in this segment, Brussels Airport is, without doubt, a leading logistics platform for this highly anticipated transport mission.
The total number of flight movements in November 2020 decreased by 70.7% compared to November 2019, to 5,299 (compared to 18,063 last year). The number of passenger flights fell by 81.5% and there was an average of 82 passengers per flight.
The number of cargo flights increased by 23.3% compared with November 2019. This increase relates to day flights; there was no increase in the number of night flights.
A great selection of destinations for the Christmas holidays
In December, and in particular, during the second half of the month, more than 65 flights will depart from Brussels Airport every day, operated by 43 airlines. The air carriers will schedule additional flights so that passengers can visit their friends and families abroad over Christmas. Additional flights will also take off to destinations which are not subject to strict travel restrictions, including the Canary Islands, for example (negative test required).
Brussels Airlines will also operate additional flights to Africa, with connecting flights available from Europe and North America.
The most popular destinations over the two-week holiday are Spain and the Canary Islands, Portugal, Morocco, Turkey and Poland. For intercontinental flights, the Gulf region, North America (Washington, New York, Montreal) and Africa (especially Kinshasa) are top destinations.