Passenger air traffic has returned to pre-crisis levels in some countries, such as Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Recovery in continental Europe, France and Portugal is encouraging following the relaxation of travel restrictions and the introduction of the EU Covid Certificate. Other markets were further burdened by persistent restrictions (some of which are being eased) or prolonged breaks on long-haul international flights.
AN VINCI Airports reported that around 30 million passengers traveled through the VINCI Aeroportos network in the third quarter of 2021, which corresponds to more than 98% of what occurred in the third quarter of 2020. But compared to the third quarter of 2019, the number of passengers still stood at 59% less.
For VINCI Aeroportos, the recovery of traffic in the summer of 2021 confirmed that the trend is to return to pre-crisis levels caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Numbers rose sharply in France, Portugal, Serbia, Northern Ireland, Brazil and Chile and even returned to 2019 levels in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
For a retake of areas it is considered that a pandemic tender is under control in most countries and the introduction of the EU Covid Certificate has led to several decisions of partial reopening of borders.
This upward trend in international traffic is illustrated by domestic traffic which represented the overwhelming majority of traffic on the VINCI Aeroportos network in 2020, but returned to its usual level (28%) in September 2021. However, international traffic has not yet reached its full potential, as many countries continue to apply partial or full restrictions on travelers entering the country. As is the case with Cambodia, Japan and the United Kingdom, these countries continued to apply strict rules.
The trend for travel resumed stabilized in September, compared to July and August, but VINCI Aeroportos believes that traffic will increase again as restrictions are eased.
The resurgence of the pandemic in some countries, and a slowdown in business and senior travel, caused traffic in September to stabilize or decline at some airports, while the recovery continued in others. But it is expected that the easing of various international traffic retention measures (in Chile, the UK and Japan) and the recently announced plan to restart transatlantic flights to and from the US on November 1, could boost the recovery to in the coming months.
VINCI Airports indicates some changes in traffic levels in 2021 compared to the same period in 2019:
- In Portugal, the number of passengers has practically doubled this summer compared to last summer. They were down 46% compared to summer 2019. Traffic in Porto in August was quite dynamic (-35%), with some routes reaching or exceeding 2019 levels (Zurich + 16%, Luxembourg + 6%, Madeira +32 %). Traffic at Funchal Airport (Madeira) is almost back to the 2019 level (5% less in August). The trend slowed down in September, but the decision to open the borders to tourists from Brazil on September 1st and to ease traffic to the September liner and to the United States should stimulate a demand for flights this winter.
- Not United Kingdom, continued traffic severely hampered by the stifling measures of international traffic that the British government continued to impose throughout the summer. Passenger numbers at London Gatwick were higher than in the summer of 2020, but still survived below the summer of 2019. Removed from the absence of restrictions on domestic travel, traffic at Belfast International Airport increased more complementary. Flights to and from major British cities such as London (Gatwick 14% below), Liverpool (11% below) and Manchester (16% below) made a particularly substantial contribution. Demand for air travel may pick up once rules on international travel are eased on Oct. 4 and as soon as transatlantic flights to and from the US can resume. JetBlue, an airline, took its maiden flight between Gatwick and John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on 30 September. It will provide, for now, four services a week and then daily flights starting in November.
- In France, the summer season was essentially marked by flights to tourist destinations. In Nantes, passenger numbers exceeded 2019 levels on some domestic routes, including Nice (+ 29%), Ajaccio (+ 49%) and Bastia (+ 29%) and some international ones, such as Barcelona (+ 13%) and Palm (+ 12%). Toulon Hyères Airport benefited from the postponement of some international flights until August: flights to and from Orly and Charles de Gaulle in Paris returned to the 2019 level and traffic to and from other destinations increased considerably (Brest increased 35%, Nantes 3 , 5 times higher, Ajaccio 12%, Bastia 39%). Traffic at Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport also advanced throughout the third quarter of 2021. Some domestic routes such as those to and from Corsica (with Ajaccio up 17% and Bastia up 28%) and other routes to and from the southern Europe (with Porto down 19% and Palma up 22%) contributed architects. The trend eased towards the end of the quarter as the number of business and senior travelers declined.
- N/A Serbia, the number of passengers tripled compared to the summer of 2020. In July and August, the demand for flights was driven by tourist destinations in Turkey (Antalya + 13%) and Egypt (Hurghada + 30%). Traffic slowed towards the end of the quarter due to a resurgence of the pandemic, but airlines’ flight schedules for the coming months still look encouraging.
- N/A Sweden, traffic at Stockholm Skavsta Airport more than doubled compared to the summer of 2020, especially due to the rapid demand for flights to and from Poland to visit friends and family.
- Not Japan, the state of emergency remained in effect through the summer and the pandemic escalated, dampening the traffic surge that had started in August, when the holiday season began. Most of the traffic was domestic, as the country’s border control measures continue to restrict international travel.
- Not Cambodia, the very tight restrictions on the entry of passengers will not remain in place, preventing the resumption of traffic during the quarter.
- No. U.S, passenger numbers at Orlando Sanford International Airport are gradually approaching the 2019 level. Route traffic was even higher than in 2019 (Asheville + 22%, Allentown + 7%, Cincinnati + 5% ) As a sign of this recovery, Swoop and Flair, two Canadian companies low cost, announced plans for new services between Canada and Orlando this winter.
- N/A Costa Rica, return to 2019 levels (+0.5%). The country, which eased further with travel restrictions in early August, is seeing dynamic passenger traffic to and from the US, especially on services to New York (JFK, + 40%), Los Angeles (+7 %) and Miami (+2%). American Airlines will begin weekly flights to Chicago on November 6th.
- The traffic at the airports of Dominican Republic hovered above pre-pandemic levels for several weeks. The main contributors were flights between Santo Domingo and the east coast (Newark Liberty serving New York +53%, Boston +41%, Fort Lauderdale +52% and Miami +23%), and transatlantic flights (Madrid with + + 22%). The destination’s appeal among North American tourists has led several companies to start providing new services – for example, Spirit Airlines, which began operating 4 daily flights between Orlando and Santo Domingo on July 8th.
- The number of passengers who traveled through Salvador Bahia Airport, n. Brazil, tripled compared to summer 2020 and continues to climb towards 2019 levels. Some routes attracted more passengers than in 2019, for example as to and from São Paulo (Congonhas + 4%, Viracopos + 17%) and Rio (Santos Dumont, 6 times more). Illustrating this dynamic, Azul airline is operating 3 new services between Salvador and Montes Claros, Porto Velho and São José do Rio Preto, on December 17th.
- Not Chile, traffic is 57% lower than in the summer of 2019, but grew 21 percentage points from the quarter. As the pandemic subsided, most regions reopened and domestic traffic to and from Santiago resumed. International traffic remains sluggish as borders remain closed, but it could recover with the country’s opening to foreign tourists on October 1, which is when the southern hemisphere tourist season begins.