Air passenger traffic quadrupled in Q2 year-on-year

© Hollandse Hoogte / ANP
In the second quarter of 2021, 3.9 million passengers travelled to and from the five main airports in the Netherlands. While that amounts to more than four times as many as in the same period the previous year, it is still down by nearly 18 million passengers from Q2 2019. The volume of air cargo transported increased by 33 percent and stood at 456 thousand tonnes in Q2 2021, which puts it well above the same period in 2019. As for commercial traffic, the number of flights in Q2 was more than two and a half times greater than the previous year at nearly 54 thousand. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on the latest figures on aviation.
Passengers carried to and from the 5 national airports
Month2019 (x million)2020 (x million)2021 (x million)

After coming to a virtual standstill following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the aviation industry appears to be gradually picking up again. Nearly 3.9 million passengers were carried in Q2 2021, a fourfold increase from the same period a year previously. With 2.1 million travellers passing through Dutch airport terminals in the first quarter of 2021, this is an increase of 83 percent. In the wake of the government's decision to allow travel to low-risk destinations as of May 15, 2021, a combined total of more than 3 million passengers travelled to or from the five main airports in the Netherlands in May and June. This was down to about 750 thousand in May and June 2020.

Increased aircraft occupancy rate

Like passenger numbers, the number of passenger flights also shows an increase in the first half of 2021. There were 44 percent more passenger flights in Q2 2021 versus Q1 2021. Only a year earlier, we saw an 88 percent decrease in Q2 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, versus Q1 2020. The aircraft occupancy rate is also showing an increase. Whereas the average occupancy rate in Q1 of this year stood at 35 out of 100 seats on a passenger flight, the rate in Q2 was 44. The average occupancy rate in Q2 2020 stood at 39 out of 100 seats.

Occupancy rate of aircraft seats on passenger flights
Month2019 (%)2020 (%)2021 (%)

Most passengers travelling to Spain

A total of 593 thousand passengers flew between a Dutch and a Spanish airport in Q2 2021, representing over 15 percent of the total number of air passengers. Second in line is the United States with 7 percent of the number of passengers. The most popular route in the same period the previous year was between the Netherlands and the United States with over 86 thousand passengers, almost 10 percent of the total passengers carried, followed by the United Kingdom with 74 thousand passengers. Behind Germany with 57.3 thousand passengers, Spain ranked fourth with 49.7 thousand passengers in the second quarter of 2020.

Increase in air cargo transport

Both the first and second quarters of 2021 saw an increase in the total volume of cargo transported by air versus the same period a year previously, by nearly 18 percent and 33 percent, respectively.
At Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, which in the second quarter of 2021 accounted for over 93 percent of the air cargo transported in the Netherlands, 426 thousand tonnes of cargo were handled; an increase of 39 percent when compared to the same period the previous year. At Maastricht Aachen Airport, which handled the remaining air cargo in the Netherlands, the volume of air cargo transported decreased by more than 18 percent to almost 30 thousand tonnes in the same period.

For several years now, the majority of air cargo has been traded with Asia, particularly with China. That has remained unchanged by the imposition of the COVID-19 countermeasures. The second quarter of 2021 saw 77 thousand tonnes of cargo traded with China, an increase of 7 percent versus the same period a year previously and up more than 4 percent versus the second quarter of 2019. Of the nearly 64 thousand tonnes of air cargo transported within Europe, nearly 24 thousand tonnes were accounted for by Russia.

Air cargo transport to and from the Netherlands
YearQuarterAsia (1 000 ton)North America (1 000 ton)Europe (1 000 ton)Central and South America (1 000 ton)Africa (1 000 ton)