Corona crisis in aviation: unprecedented slump in passenger numbers

Corona crisis in aviation: unprecedented slump in passenger numbers

Figures of the past week show just how drastic the declines in the airline business are due to the new corona virus. The volume of arriving and departing passengers fell by almost 45 percent. This is shown by data from the airport association ADV, which is available to SPIEGEL.

According to this, less than 2.4 million passengers traveled through German airports between March 9 and 15 – in the comparative week in 2019, the figure was just under 4.3 million. It is expected that these numbers will continue to decrease. It is not only the airlines that are cutting their offers down to zero. Fewer and fewer countries allow foreigners to enter at all. Most recently, the EU also imposed extensive entry restrictions.

“The slump in passenger traffic is unprecedented. However, it is imperative that airports and airlines be able to maintain a minimum level of connectivity. The supply of goods is existential in order to cope with the corona crisis in an orderly and successful manner,” said Ralph Beisel, CEO of the ADV.

Lufthansa boss Carsten Spohr also made a grim forecast at the company’s balance sheet press conference. There are so many aircraft on the airline that he knows the flight schedule for the coming week by heart; in terms of the number of flights, it was the same as that of Lufthansa in the 1950s and you would get by with two-digit flight numbers.

At Frankfurt Airport, Germany’s largest hub, planes are to be parked on the blocked north-west runway and on the taxiways that lead there. Lufthansa planes are also on the ground in Berlin-Schönefeld.

According to Spohr, the Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss is parking parts of its fleet at the military airbase Dübendorf northeast of Zurich. The Lufthansa Group’s personnel costs alone amount to around EUR 750 million per month. The cargo business at Lufthansa Cargo is currently going well, but this cannot compensate for the massive decline in passenger flights.

The aviation industry also suffers globally, hardly any country is unaffected. The biggest change in the past week, according to the aviation service OAG, was the number of scheduled flights from Italy, which is now 74 percent below the level of a year ago. According to the OAG, at least the Chinese aviation industry has apparently bottomed out, but is still far from a recovery.

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