Frankfurt’s North Runway Remains Closed As Traffic Remains Low

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Traffic at Frankfurt airport has now fallen so much that it has closed one terminal and a runway. While some regions are seeing air-traffic improve, the second Covid 19 wave in Europe tied with the risk of new variants has led to a sharp decrease in traffic in the region. As a result, traffic is falling close to April 2020 levels.

Lufthansa, Boeing 747, Frankfurt Airport
Frankfurt Airport is continuing to suffer from low passenger numbers. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

While Germany dealt with the first COVID-19 wave fairly successfully, unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the second. The country is now two months into its second lockdown, although things are starting to improve. However, the lockdown has led to a sharp decrease in passenger demand.

North runway remains closed

08L-27R has now been closed since December 14th, two days before Germany entered its second national lockdown. However, in the two months since, traffic has continued to fall, suggesting that it may not reopen any time soon. The decision to close the runway has created an opportunity for Frankfurt Airport and Lufthansa, however. The runway has been repurposed as a parking facility for Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-8s that aren’t currently flying.

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When Frankfurt Airport decided to reclose the north runway, the airport was handling around 440 flights a day. However, according to data from RadarBox.com, the airport is now down to an average of just 392 flights a day, a 70% drop year on year. At the end of February 2020, the airport was handling around 1,374 flights a day. Since the pandemic kicked in, the airport’s busiest week was the second week in August, with an average of 668 flights a day.

Frankfurt Airport, Runway Closed, Low Traffic
The airport hasn’t seen such low aircraft movements since June. Photo: RadarBox.com

As things stand, Germany’s current lockdown is set to extend until March 7th. As such, it seems unlikely that the airport’s second terminal will open any time soon.

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In January 2021, Frankfurt Airport handled just 882,869 passengers. This equates to a fall of 81% compared to January 2020. The airport attributed the low demand to travel restrictions imposed and tightened by governments.

Fraport’s other airports also saw drops. However, St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport (LED) and China’s Xi’an Airport (XIY) stand out. They saw reductions of just 30.3% and 36.2%, respectively, compared to January 2020. Ljubljana Airport in Slovenia was the worst hit of all the airports in Fraport’s portfolio. It handled less than 5,000 passengers in January, meaning that its traffic fell 93.5% year on year.

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Frankfurt Airport, Runway Closed, Low Traffic
In good news, the airport had its second-best month ever for cargo handled. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Not all bad news

Thankfully, while the airport’s passenger operations are still badly hurting, it wasn’t all bad news for Frankfurt Airport in January. In fact, the airport recorded its second-highest cargo throughput during a January on record. Total cargo throughput increased by 18.1%. This includes both air freight and airmail.

The airport revealed that Chinese New Year falling in February meant that the low traffic prompted by the holiday didn’t contribute to its January results as usual.

What do you make of Frankfurt Airport’s January figures? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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