Ostend Airport closes 2020 with excellent cargo results. The traded volume increased by 112.7% to 52,659 tonnes in the past year. Due to the consequences of the coronavirus, the number of passengers fell by 75.6% to 111,499. The airport is optimistic about the new year and is convinced that its small scale can create an extra safe environment for its passengers.
Initially, 2020 looked very promising for Ostend Airport. With 42,000 passengers in the first two months of the year, our airport performed 11% better than in the same period the year before. Management made every effort to continue with this trend and to welcome more than half a million passengers for the first time.
In March, however, the world was confronted with a different reality. The coronavirus caused all passenger flights to be temporarily interrupted between mid-March and the beginning of July. After good preparation and strict precautions, the first flight left again on 3 July to the Spanish Palma de Mallorca. The restart of flights caused a modest recovery due to a limited summer programme. Just under 40,000 passengers travelled via Ostend in July and August to top destinations in Spain, the Canary Islands and Greece. In addition, there were flights to Turkey that were only available to passengers with a Turkish passport.
From August, the number of travel restrictions increased again, which again had an impact on the flight schedule offered. TUI fly, therefore, decided to suspend flights from September 10 until the autumn holidays. During this holiday, flights were temporarily offered again to the top destination Alicante.
On an annual basis, the airport closes with 111,499 passengers. This is 75.6% less than the 457,423 passengers that the airport welcomed in 2019. Despite the coronavirus crisis, the occupancy rate for destinations such as Alicante, Malaga and Tenerife was very high.
Safe travel environment
Management is convinced that travellers can travel safely and relaxed via Ostend airport. The airport has invested heavily in safe and efficient procedures in recent months. Moreover, the regional character of our airport means that few flights depart at the same time. In this way, there are always a limited number of passengers in the airport building and the distance can be kept at all times. This allows the airport to create an extra safe environment for its passengers.
Freight transport via Ostend Airport will close 2020 with a very strong result. The traded volume increased by 112.7% to 52,659 tonnes (24,757 in 2019) This is the best result since 2013. The number of flights increased by 133% compared to 2019.
During the first lockdown, there was a lot of demand for extra cargo flights. Part of the worldwide increase in the number of cargo flights also found its way to Ostend Airport. Magma and Qatar Airways, for example, operated flights to Ostend and fixed-value Egyptair expanded its flights considerably.
The goods transported related to medical equipment, food and e-commerce. In the months following the first lockdown, a number of airlines such as Qatar Airways decided to continue flying to Ostend. This ensured that the growth was continued and the annual figures more than double compared to 2019.
The proximity of our airport to two seaports, the smooth mobility network around the airport and our good location for distribution within Northern Europe, but also the UK are major assets. In addition, there is sufficient available capacity at our airport, we are open 24/7 and there are no slot coordination or restrictions. One by one assets that make Ostend airport an extremely service-oriented airport.
The airport will therefore continue to invest in the cargo segment. To this end, the airport has an agreement with the Versluys group to further expand the cargo infrastructure on Apron 1. These works will normally start in 2021 and should support further growth.
Business flights via the General Aviation Terminal, which is operated by North Sea Aviation Center (NSAC), held up well despite the coronavirus crisis. We note a 7% decrease in the number of movements compared to 2019. We note that the business flights via NSAC have recovered quickly and are again approaching the level of 2019.
The airport is optimistic about 2021. For example, we expect that TUI Fly flights will resume this spring. The destination Murcia will also be started up. Furthermore, the successful connection with Moscow is also being looked at.
Wednesday, January 6, 2021