Airports facing a difficult year: No air traffic recovery expected for 2021

The first supervisory board meeting after the successful commissioning of BER on November 27 was all about the massive effects that the ongoing pandemic has on the capital region’s flight operations. The management reported that the passenger numbers have recently decreased dramatically and now lie at around 10 percent in comparison to the same month last year.

2020-09-18-BER-SXF-aerial-view_85A7231 © Günter Wicker  Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH
© Günter Wicker / Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH
No air traffic recovery expected for 2021

Against the background of the sharp decline in passenger numbers due to the second infection wave around Europe since mid-October, the management adjusted the number of passengers expected for 2020 from a total of 10 million to 9 million. The associated loss of income could be rectified through the corona aid of EUR 300 million this year.

 

The second corona wave also influences the way 2021 is viewed. Like all other German airports, Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH (FBB) must assume that the passenger numbers for 2021 will remain low. The German Airport Association ADV predicts a 2021 traffic volume of only a third of that in 2019.

FBB has also adjusted its expectations after the second lockdown. The management reported to the supervisory board that, according to current predictions, only 30 percent of the passenger volume pre-crisis can be assumed.

The corona pandemic poses such a serious turning point in the aviation industry that the medium- and long-term developments are currently unpredictable and can only be interpreted in general terms. However, it is generally expected that air traffic will recover in the medium term and that the need and desire to fly will further increase.

 

The management also gave a detailed report to the supervisory board regarding the various measures taken by FBB to lower the running costs of flight operations. The employment of short-time workers from the 1st December shall be followed by the yearlong closure of terminal 5 from spring 2021.

Due to the small amount of air traffic, the southern runway shall be temporarily out of operation. In order to achieve further savings and reduced spending, a separate expenditure board was also established. From here, all expenses overreaching the threshold of EUR 25,000 are to be strictly examined regarding their operational necessity.

 

Should the management’s predictions be confirmed and the air traffic from 2020 to 2021 not significantly grow, then it must be assumed that FBB will need a total of up to EUR 660 million in financing, despite the savings. This leads to an additional amount of EUR 552 million, which increases a shareholder contribution of EUR 108 million already decided in 2018.

 

Rainer Bretschneider, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH: “The commissioning of BER was a joyful moment well worth remembering for the board. Many years of hard work – also for the controlling body – have proven to be good and correct.

But instead of seeing a future in which BER can advance FBB economically, we have to assume that, due to corona, further difficult years lay ahead of us. In order to overcome this crisis in the aviation industry, we need our shareholders to support us in our own efforts.”

 

Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, Chief Executive Officer of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH: “2021 is going to be one of the toughest years in the history of FBB. According to the predicted passenger numbers, no airport in Germany will be in the position to cover its operational costs.

FBB is meeting the second corona wave in a situation in which we could have found a way out of these red numbers. Now, only two things can help us: The willingness of our shareholders to stand by us during this crisis, and the engagement of the company FBB to work as efficiently and economically as possible.

Through a joint working effort, we will manage to position BER properly for an economic recovery of East Germany.”

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