National airports handled 98 percent fewer passengers in April

© Hollandse Hoogte / Harold Versteeg
In April 2020, nearly 134 thousand passengers travelled to and from the five national airports. This number is 98 percent down on April 2019. Air cargo transport declined by 25 percent over the same period, to 103 thousand tonnes in total weight carried. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on the latest figures on aviation.

Due to the coronavirus crisis, many countries adopted restrictive measures for the aviation industry in March. As a result, the number of commercial flights dropped by over 90 percent in April 2020 year-on-year, to 4.8 thousand. Passenger traffic to and from the five national airports has come to a near standstill.

The average flight occupancy rate plummeted from 82 percent in April last year to 29 percent in April 2020.

Air transport, passengers carried at the five national airports
maandFlights (year-on-year % change)Passengers carried (year-on-year % change)

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Eindhoven Airport processed 126 thousand and nearly 8 thousand passengers respectively. In April 2019, these numbers were 6.1 million and 606 thousand respectively. Over 56 percent of the passengers in April 2020 travelled to a destination within Europe, the most popular being the United Kingdom with 13.7 thousand and Germany with 11.9 thousand travellers.

In both April 2019 and April 2020, the most popular destination outside of Europe was the United States. However, this year the number of US-bound travellers was only a fraction of the number last year, namely 18 thousand versus 554 thousand. At Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Maastricht Aachen Airport and Groningen Eelde Airport, passenger traffic has come to a complete standstill.

Less rapid decline in cargo transport

The impact of the COVID-19 measures on air cargo transport is less obvious. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol accounts for around 90 percent of all air cargo transport in the Netherlands, with Maastricht Aachen Airport taking up the remainder. In April 2019, a total of 138 thousand tonnes in goods were carried by air, versus 103 thousand tonnes one year later. The largest decline was seen at Schiphol Airport: from 126.7 thousand to 93.3 thousand tonnes (26.4 percent less). Cargo transport via Maastricht declined from 11.2 thousand to 10.2 thousand tonnes, i.e. by 9.5 percent.

Air cargo is not only carried on dedicated cargo flights but sometimes also on passenger flights. Year-on-year, cargo flights carried 19 percent more goods in April; the volume of cargo carried on passenger flights dropped by 84 percent.

The decline is seen in air cargo transport to and from all continents. Whereas in April 2019, 4.9 thousand tonnes of goods were carried to other destinations within Europe out of Maastricht, in April 2020 this transport declined by half, with the bulk of goods out of Maastricht destined for Asia. As for cargo flights out of Schiphol Airport, most had an Asian destination, both in April of last year and in April of this year.

Outbound air cargo transport, by origin/destination
werelddeelApril 2019 (x thousand tonnes)April 2020 (x thousand tonnes)
North America24.79718.949
Central and South America14.5528.157

Hardly any passengers to and from the Caribbean Netherlands

In March 2019, a total of 43.4 thousand passengers flew to and from the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands, against 25.4 thousand passengers in March 2020. This is a 41-percent decline. In April 2020, fewer than 300 passengers flew to and from the Caribbean Netherlands.

In March and April 2020, the number of passenger arrivals at the three airports combined fell by 74 percent relative to the same period in 2019; passenger departures declined by 63 percent. The decline was mostly seen in April.

Passenger arrivals and departures in the Caribbean Netherlands
eilandJanuary (year-on-year % change)February (year-on-year % change)March (year-on-year % change)April (year-on-year % change)
St Eustatius9.058.68-44.82-98.68