Almost 25 percent more air passengers in 2021

© Shutterstock / Aerovista Luchtfotografie
In 2021, altogether 29 million air passengers passed through the five major airports in the Netherlands. This is almost 25 percent more than in 2020, but still far below the total of 81 million passengers in 2019. The average passenger seat occupancy increased last year as well, although it still remained considerably lower than in 2019. In air cargo transport, almost 1.8 million tonnes of goods were handled last year. This represents an increase of 13.8 percent on 2020 and of 6.8 percent relative to 2019. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of newly released figures.

After the COVID-19 measures for international air traffic were relaxed last year, the number of passengers rose as of spring. In the second half of the year, 23.1 million passengers travelled to and from the Netherlands, almost the same number as in the whole previous year. The busiest month was August with 4.5 million passengers.

Passenger traffic at the five major airports
maand2019 (x million )2020 (x million )2021 (x million )

Differences between airports

Both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, around 90 percent of all commercial air traffic and air passenger traffic in the Netherlands went through Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. In 2021, a total of 25.5 million passengers travelled via Amsterdam, i.e. 22 percent more than in 2020. Eindhoven Airport is the country’s second busiest passenger airport. Last year, 2.7 million passengers passed through Eindhoven’s terminals, an increase of almost 28 percent on 2020. The largest relative increase in passenger transport was recorded at Groningen Airport Eelde: from 17.6 thousand passengers in 2020 to 27.3 thousand in 2021, representing a 55.5 percent-rise. The largest relative increase in number of flights performed last year was recorded at Rotterdam The Hague Airport:  31 percent, to a total of 8.3 thousand flights.

Number of flights and passengers carried per airport
LuchthavenFlights 2020 (y-o-y % change)Passengers 2020 (y-o-y % change)Flights 2021 (y-o-y % change)Passengers 2021 (y-o-y % change)
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol -54.3-70.917.522.1
Rotterdam The Hague Airport-65.6-76.631.154.2
Eindhoven Airport-55.5-68.814.827.7
Maastricht Aachen Airport-14.9-81.47.720.4
Groningen Airport Eelde-82.0-

Highest volume of air cargo transport in three years

At almost 1.8 million tonnes, the total weight of air cargo shipments in 2021 was larger than in 2019 and 2020. This stood close to 2017 and 2018, when there were record volumes of 1.84 million and 1.82 million tonnes respectively in air cargo transport.
The bulk of goods transported by air is carried on cargo flights, although passenger flights as well may have goods on board. Due to travel restrictions in passenger transport, less cargo transport was performed on passenger flights in both 2020 and 2021.
Almost 93 percent of all goods transported by air in 2021 went via Amsterdam Airport Schiphol; the other 7 percent was handled at Maastricht Aachen Airport. In 2020, the latter airport recorded a 5.9-percent increase in air cargo volume relative to 2019, against a 5.9-percent decrease to 128 thousand tonnes in 2021. Conversely, in Amsterdam the air cargo volume declined year on year in 2020 but then rose by 15.7 percent to 1.7 million tonnes in 2021.

Air cargo transport to and from the Netherlands
 Passenger flights (x 1,000 tonnes)Cargo flights (x 1,000 tonnes)