It was with mixed feelings that Cologne Bonn Airport closed the year 2018. On the one hand, with 12.96 million passengers in one year, the Airport chalked up a new peak value. In comparison to the previous year, this new figure meant a plus of five percent. The cargo sector also saw a successful end to the year, handling a total of 860,000 tonnes goods and freight – a plus of two percent. These results were, however, overshadowed by the outlook for the new year: In 2019 Cologne Bonn Airport reckons with significant losses in passenger volume.
“The past year was a real challenge for the aviation industry in Germany. We are pleased we were able to close the year with such a good result. The numerous flight delays and cancellations in summer also took their toll on us. On top of this, the hot weather conditions made extraordinary demands on our staff members. Therefore, our sincere thanks go to all our employees who, despite the difficult conditions, made these good results at all possible,” says Johan Vanneste, Chief Executive Officer of Flughafen Köln/Bonn GmbH.
The growth drivers in the past year were, for instance, Easyjet, which returned to Cologne/Bonn in summer with high-frequency Berlin connections, and also Eurowings increasing their routes to Berlin, Munich and Palma de Mallorca. Ryanair, with their eight new summer destinations, also contributed to the positive figures. The same applied to Condor, Laudamotion and Pegasus with a high commitment in the summer flight schedule.
Towards the end of the year, the first setback became apparent – in November and December, the passenger figures dropped in comparison to the previous year. In these two months, up to five percent fewer passengers were flying via Cologne/Bonn. The reason for the falling passenger numbers were, first and foremost, the loss of the Eurowings long-haul flights, and with this the drop in the number of feeder flights, plus airline consolidations, which could only be compensated in part.
“The slump at the end of last year is something of a foretaste of what awaits us in the next twelve months. We have a tough year ahead of us – in 2019 the Airport reckons with a drop in passenger volume of about one million,” says Johan Vanneste. This means that some eight percent fewer passengers will take off or land at Cologne/Bonn than in 2018. This will also have an adverse effect on the economic result in the coming year: the forecast for 2019 is a loss amounting to approximately 20 million Euros.
“It is now our responsibility to ensure that the Airport can return to profitable growth. In the light of this, we already developed a strategy for this with the Supervisory Board last year,” says Vanneste. The aim is to once again achieve a positive operating result by 2020. “To accomplish this, we are already holding talks with the Works Council and the Trade Unions, discussing various measures which are desperately needed to lay the foundation for a sustainable positive development of the Airport. Our employees have excellent qualifications and are highly motivated. As a team, we will rise to the challenges that face us, and I am sure we will also master these together.”