The airport activities in Ostend got off to an excellent start in 2020 with growth in the cargo sector, general aviation and scheduled flights of TUI fly.
Europe’s landscape soon changed with land borders closed in early March due to an exponential increase in contamination. This situation soon proved unsustainable and TUI fly decided, together with other airlines, to temporarily suspend their operations in the interest of all passengers and staff. The impact on traffic figures is therefore significant for March. What had to be a brilliant first quarter is now very common due to “corona”.
The impact of COVID-19 is significant. The number of passengers decreased by 53.2% to 11,588 compared to 24,784 passengers in March 2019. The airport, therefore, closes the first 3 months of 2020 with 14.3% fewer passengers compared to 2019.
Due to the disappearance of intercontinental passenger flights and the extra cargo capacity, the demand for cargo flights has increased worldwide. Ostend-Bruges airport is no exception here. For example, the cargo volume increased by 89.9% in March compared to the same month last year. Moreover, it is also a fact that a number of other Belgian airports suffer from a lack of capacity and manpower, due to COVID-19, among others. These two factors lead to more cargo volume in Ostend. In the first quarter, the airport recorded 53% more cargo compared to the same quarter in 2019. For example, it processed 9,822 tonnes compared to 6,420 tonnes in Q1 2019.
In view of the strategic importance of the regional airport, in close consultation with the Flemish and Federal Authorities, management did not lose time to take responsibility and anticipate in these extremely volatile circumstances. Air traffic at Ostend airport has meanwhile been greatly reduced and is currently limited to cargo traffic and activities on Apron 3 such as general aviation, essential helicopter flights, etc. It, therefore, seemed useful and useful from an economic point of view to bundle all operations within the adjusted minimum staffing regime for all staff. Management is therefore very grateful to the staff and airport users for the flexibility they display in this era of Corona. It is clear that the collective interest of good health takes precedence.
It looks like the second quarter will not be easy for the airport. Management is in close contact with the operators, the Flemish and the Federal Government, to discuss the prospects for the summer programming.
“The fact that we still have absolute quarantine ahead for a few weeks makes us realise that the virus is taking a heavy toll in any case. COVID-19 paralyses the aviation sector in its entirety, but we must be hopeful and dare to say that a growing sector such as the aviation will also overcome this crisis,” says CEO Marcel Buelens.
Thursday, April 2, 2020