Frankfurt Airport Traffic Falls 62% As Planes Are Parked

Despite being the hub of German aviation, the global downturn in traffic has hit Frankfurt Airport hard. In fact, in March the airport’s passenger traffic dropped by over 60%. However, cargo is still going strong.

Lufthansa, Grounded Aircraft, Frankfurt
Once busy Frankfurt now resembles an aircraft parking lot. Photo: Oliver Roesler – Lufthansa

Currently, Frankfurt Airport looks like a ghost town compared to normal. Where there was once a stream of aircraft lining up to land, there are now just a few an hour. Many of these are aircraft carrying freight. In fact, according to FlightRadar24.com, the airport yesterday handled only 62 arrivals, including freighters and passenger aircraft. Let’s take a look at the numbers!

Passengers fall

Unsurprisingly, the number of passengers handled by Frankfurt has fallen. This is a pattern that has been observed all over the world. In the case of Frankfurt Airport, the number of passengers is down 62% from March last year. As January and February saw passengers drop by 0.7% and 4% respectively, Q1 passenger traffic is down 24.9% in total.

Frankfurt Airport, Passengers, Decline
Frankfurt Airport has seen passenger traffic plummet in March. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: Fraport

The drop in passengers is due to a huge drop in demand, tied with government travel bans. As a result, many aircraft aren’t flying. Instead, Frankfurt looks like an aviation parking lot.

Lufthansa, Grounded Aircraft, Frankfurt
One of Frankfurt’s four runways is being used to store aircraft. Another is being resurfaced. Photo: Oliver Roesler – Lufthansa

However, there is cause to think that the figures for April will be even more miserable. In fact, in a press release, Fraport said: “During Week 15 (April 6-12), traffic at Frankfurt Airport plummeted by 96.8 percent to 46,338 passengers compared to the same week in 2019.” Interestingly, it looks as though the traffic fall from February to March was about the same as for London Heathrow.

Frankfurt Airport, Passengers, Decline
Frankfurt passengers fell by a similar amount to Heathrow passengers. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: Fraport

It’s not all bad news

However, the release of the figures by Frankfurt Airport isn’t all bad news. While still a decrease on last year’s values, the of cargo to or from Frankfurt rose from February to March. This is despite passenger aircraft being taken out of the capacity.

Frankfurt Airport, Passengers, Decline
Cargo increased month on Month at Frankfurt Graph: Simple Flying | Data: Fraport

The amount of cargo has increased even though fewer passenger aircraft are flying with cargo in their bellies. This has led to a significant decrease in cargo capacity across the globe, one of the reasons that KLM has unretired a couple of Boeing 747s. London Heathrow has attributed this to a drop in cargo handled month on month.

Frankfurt Airport, Passengers, Decline
Cargo increased at Frankfurt, unlike in London. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: Fraport

While Lufthansa has grounded the majority of its fleet, even sending some to long-term storage, it has kept its entire freight fleet in the air to keep global supply lines moving. Frankfurt is the home of its cargo operation. Additionally, Lufthansa was one of the first airlines to begin using passenger aircraft as freighters. This is something that many airlines are now doing.

Aer Lingus, Airbus A330, Bird Strike
Many airlines have been turning some of their aircraft into makeshift cargo aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Did you get the chance to fly in March? Let us know when and where you flew in the comments.

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