Continued recovery in passenger traffic in Q4 for VINCI Airports
Over the entirety of 2021, VINCI’s airport network welcomed near 86 million passengers, 66 per cent down on 2019 but a 12 per cent growth compared to 2020.
Credit: VINCI Airports
VINCI network airports welcomed almost 32 million passengers in the fourth quarter of 2021, down 46 per cent compared to the same period in 2019 but more than double the figures in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020. Over full-year 2021, some 86 million passengers were welcomed, 66 per cent down on 2019 but up 12 per cent compared to 2020.
After very encouraging results in October and November 2021 (down 48 per cent and 44 per cent respectively), the end of 2021 was marked by a resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic in some countries due to emergence of the Omicron variant. However, unlike the situation at end 2020, governments did not impose such strong travel limitation measures, preferring to rely on screening and high vaccination rates in most countries. The recovery of passenger traffic therefore continued in the fourth quarter of 2021 in most of the network’s airports. A more detailed analysis shows that in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, traffic continues to remain close to the levels recorded in 2019, while in Portugal, the UK, Serbia, and Chile, the number of passengers served was from two to four times higher than in the fourth quarter of 2020. In addition, Cambodia and Chile reopened to international travellers this last quarter, after months of closed borders. Illustrating this positive trend, the average load factor of aircraft operating on the VINCI Airports network rose to over 70 per cent in October and November 2021 for the first time since the start of the crisis.
Below, unless otherwise indicated, variations refer to traffic levels in 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.
- In Portugal, airport traffic returned in the fourth quarter of 2021 to a level equivalent to 73 per cent of traffic in the same quarter of 2019 (up by a factor of 3.2 compared to the fourth quarter of 2020), with an increase of almost 19 points compared to the preceding quarter. Passenger numbers on links with the major European capitals rose particularly sharply in October and November during the autumn holidays (-18 per cent for Orly, -11 per cent for Amsterdam, -12 per cent for Geneva, +2 per cent for London Heathrow (LHR)). However, the pace of the recovery showed some signs of slowing at the end of the year due to the fifth wave of the pandemic
- In the UK, passenger traffic at London Gatwick (LGW) continued to recover. The autumn holiday period and relaxation of the rules for entering the UK in October and November had a particularly positive impact on international flights: Dublin (from -68 per cent in Q3 to -41 per cent in Q4), Tenerife (from -79 per cent to -52 per cent), Lanzarote (from -75 per cent to -26 per cent), Malaga (from -83 per cent to -66 per cent). The easing of UK entry criteria starting early January should boost this trend, likewise the additional capacities announced for the next few months by British Airways (reopening of a base for its short-haul flights with 18 aircraft by end May) and Wizz Air (opening of 14 new direct links and four new aircraft for its base)
- The autumn holiday period also benefitted airports in the VINCI network in France, where traffic rose by approximately 20 points in Nantes and Lyon over this period. Passengers flying from Nantes chose holiday destinations such as Nice (+23 per cent) or Barcelona (+30 per cent). This uptick faltered subsequently with the fifth wave of the pandemic. Several companies (such as Volotea, Transavia, Swiss, Corsair) confirmed the opening of new lines to Nantes or Lyon as of December or for the next summer season, suggesting the possibility of an increase in traffic in the next few months
- The number of passengers welcomed this last quarter in Belgrade (Serbia) was down 40 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2019. Demand for flights was particularly brisk towards destinations such as Istanbul (+8 per cent) and Dubai (+19 per cent). Traffic could pick up in the next few months as Air Serbia reinforces the capacity of its Belgrade hub: resumption of routes to Nice, Madrid, and Venice, and a new route between Belgrade and Nis
- In Japan, passenger numbers rose 23 points over the quarter thanks to resumption of domestic flights after the state of emergency was lifted at end September (-29 per cent in December), given that Japan’s borders have been closed for several months
- In the U.S., traffic at Orlando Sanford airport rose by almost 30 points over the quarter thanks to a lull in the pandemic in the country. On some routes, the number of passengers carried approached or even exceeded pre-pandemic levels, to destinations such as Asheville (-6 per cent), Allentown (+5 per cent) and Harrisburg (-5 per cent). During this quarter, the airport welcomed new international routes with Canada (Toronto) operated by Swoop Airlines and Flair Airlines
- Traffic in the Dominican Republic airports stabilised over the quarter at a point very close to its pre-pandemic level. Certain links made a strong contribution to sharp growth in traffic, in particular flights between Santo Domingo and Miami (+27 per cent) and Madrid (+40 per cent). Faced with strong demand on the Madrid route, Iberia further increased the frequency of weekly flights – to 13 – in November. Madrid is today the top destination from Latin America, where Iberia offers significantly more flights than before the pandemic. Traffic fell in December due to operational problems in the U.S.(cancellation of flights due to staff shortages)
- Growth of traffic to near pre-crisis levels at Salvador de Bahia airport in Brazil was confirmed this quarter. GOL Airlines opened more than 20 new destinations in December on the back of two new connection time-slots a day. This led to high passenger numbers on flights to São Paulo (VCP +48 per cent), Rio (SDU +99 per cent) and Belo Horizonte (+11 per cent). In December, the airport reached an important milestone in its development: for the first time in its history, it had direct links to all the capitals in the south of the country. Lastly, six new destinations will be opened in January: Porto Velho, Montes Claros, São José do Rio Preto, Cuiabá, Belém, Florianópolis
- In Chile, traffic rose 25 points compared to the preceding quarter. This strong uptick reflects very high passenger numbers on domestic lines (-12 per cent over the whole quarter compared to the same period in 2019), and, to a lesser extent, the increase in traffic on certain international lines since reopening of borders on 1 October 2021 (Bogota from -76 per cent in Q3 to -36 per cent in Q4, Miami MIA from – 61 per cent to -10 per cent).