Far fewer air passengers, slightly less cargo traffic in corona times

© Hollandse Hoogte / ANP
From March 2020 to February 2021 inclusive, 14.1 million passengers travelled to and from the five main airports of the Netherlands. This is 82.6 percent less than one year previously. The volume of air cargo declined by 3.7 percent. In 2020, CO2 emissions in the aviation sector were 49 percent down on the previous year. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on newly released figures.

Air traffic developments (flights, passengers and cargo) per week
jaarweekPassengers (year-on-year % change)Cargo (year-on-year % change)Flights (year-on-year % change)
202011.2-9.10.6
202025.8-7.66.6
202030.6-6.9-1.1
202040.7-6.7-0.5
202051.0-17.9-0.4
20206-6.7-6.3-3.9
20207-5.0-7.7-5.6
20208-5.1-1.7-2.8
20209-6.1-5.5-1.3
202010-17.4-5.8-2.4
202011-35.1-11.2-7.5
202012-72.8-23.2-46.0
202013-91.3-23.4-79.7
202014-97.1-32.6-89.0
202015-98.1-26.2-90.7
202016-98.5-34.1-91.1
202017-98.2-14.3-89.4
202018-98.0-17.3-89.6
202019-97.4-17.6-88.0
202020-97.3-22.5-87.5
202021-96.9-19.5-86.9
202022-96.3-14.9-86.0
202023-95.2-7.2-84.8
202024-94.6-2.7-83.5
202025-92.3-10.1-80.2
202026-90.7-7.3-78.2
202027-85.1-10.4-69.5
202028-80.4-1.8-63.3
202029-77.4-4.2-61.5
202030-75.0-2.9-58.6
202031-74.3-0.6-59.4
202032-69.4-2.4-47.1
202033-69.74.7-46.3
202034-72.40.2-46.7
202035-74.4-2.3-47.2
202036-76.3-6.7-44.9
202037-78.5-6.6-48.4
202038-79.7-6.1-51.8
202039-80.3-1.5-52.6
202040-80.50.1-54.7
202041-81.42.6-55.6
202042-82.1-6.3-57.2
202043-83.51.9-58.4
202044-82.83.6-55.8
202045-83.92.8-56.7
202046-84.28.6-60.4
202047-83.98.5-64.2
202048-83.010.5-65.7
202049-79.91.2-64.3
202050-76.97.4-63.5
202051-72.56.3-55.3
202052-80.014.8-55.2
202053-82.722.7-56.5
20211-77.66.1-53.7
20212-81.94.3-61.8
20213-86.311.4-66.5
20214-90.124.5-69.1
20215-91.117.5-71.7
20216-90.215.0-68.5
20217-89.56.7-69.6
20218-88.810.1-69.7
20219-87.316.6-69.0
202110-84.719.0-68.7
202111-60.935.7-47.6
20211238.842.549.0

On 13 March 2020, the Dutch government announced a (temporary) ban on passenger flights from the high-risk countries of Italy, China, South Korea and Iran. One day later, passenger flights to and from the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba) were cancelled. Travellers were also advised to make essential trips only. Immediately after this announcement, air passenger traffic to and from the Netherlands dropped by over 57 percent to 385.1 thousand in week 12. The number of passengers declined further in the following weeks, reaching a record low of 24.6 thousand in week 16 (mid-April). Dutch airports handled 1.6 million passengers in week 16 of the previous year.

Relaxations were announced in early June, enabling travel again to and from twelve countries in the European Union and to and from the Caribbean Netherlands as of 15 June. In week 25 (15 to 21 June inclusive), passenger traffic to and from the main Dutch airports exceeded 100 thousand for the first time again. In the first half of August 2020 (weeks 32 and 33), the five main airports experienced the busiest period since March, with nearly 550 thousand passengers per week on average. In 2019, the majority of passengers were handled in weeks 31 and 32, namely 1.8 million per week.

On 14 December 2020, stricter measures were introduced again. There was a temporary drop in passenger numbers in January and February 2021. In the final week of March 2021, 173 thousand passengers travelled via the main airports. As a result, passenger traffic was up by 39 percent relative to the same period last year, during the first lockdown.

Cargo transport less affected

The volume of goods transported by air was less impacted by the coronavirus measures. Whereas air cargo transport declined in the first few months of the crisis due to flight restrictions, it was up year-on-year by the end of September 2020. The tonnage of air cargo in Q4 2020 was 4.7 percent up on Q4 2019.

Destinations hardly changed in corona year

Of the 81.2 million passengers who travelled via the main Dutch airports from March 2019 through February 2020, 73.4 percent had their destination or origin within Europe. From March 2020 through February 2021, 76.8 percent of the 14.1 million passengers travelled across Europe.

Top 10 origin/destination countries in passenger air transport
landMarch 2020 - February 2021 (x 1,000)March 2019 - February 2020 (x 1,000)
United Kingdom126611282
Spain15108774
United States7516416
Italy9245044
Germany7584540
France7783738
Turkey5362567
Portugal6292385
Greece5532180
Switzerland3702147

Of the air passengers travelling between March 2019 and February 2020, 13.9 percent flew to and from the United Kingdom. 10.8 percent to and from Spain. In the same period one year later, Spain and the UK swapped places with 10.7 and 9.0 percent of total passengers carried respectively. China is regarded as one of the first coronavirus hotspots. From March 2019 through February 2020, air passenger traffic between the Netherlands and China stood at 1.3 million, i.e. 1.6 percent of all airline passengers. This number stood at 103 thousand between March 2020 and February 2021, equivalent to 0.7 percent of the total number of air passengers.

Less kerosene consumption, lower emission levels

The number of aircraft movements fell from 566 thousand in 2019 to 258 thousand in 2020, representing a decrease of over 54 percent. As a result, there was a lower demand for fuel last year. In 2019, kerosene consumption in the Netherlands amounted to 3.9 billion kg, versus 2.2 billion kg one year later. This is a decline of nearly 44 percent.

Due to less air traffic, CO2 emissions in aviation declined by over 49 percent to 5.8 billion kg. This volume only comprises CO2 emitted by aircraft belonging to the Dutch fleet.

Flights, CO2 emissions and kerosene consumption
jaarFlights (year-on-year % change)CO2 emissions (year-on-year % change)Kerosene consumption (year-on-year % change)
20152.81.04.7
20166.0-8.42.6
20173.8-0.92.8
20181.6-0.11.2
2019*0.3-0.2-2.1
2020*-54.4-49.3-43.9
*provisional figures