Frankfurt And Heathrow’s Passenger Traffic Both Fell By 97% In April

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Both Frankfurt and Heathrow Airport saw passenger traffic fall by a staggering 97% in April, compared to the same month in 2019. The airports are some of the busiest in Europe.

Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
Both Frankfurt and Heathrow Airport have seen passenger numbers drop by 97% in April. Photo: Fraport

It’s no secret that the airline industry is in crisis. However, with airports beginning to release their traffic statistics for April, we’re starting to be able to put a figure on exactly what effect the current crisis is having on the industry.

Figures released by two of Europe’s busiest airports show a considerable drop in passenger traffic. Indeed, In the whole month of April, both airports handled fewer passengers than they typically would on a single day before the crisis.

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Frankfurt Airport

In April 2019, Frankfurt Airport handled just over six million passengers, 6,039,842, to be exact. This equates to an average of 201,328 passengers per day. We can use this figure to put the magnitude of the current crisis faced by the aviation industry into perspective.

Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
The airport handled more passengers in a day during April 2019 than it did during the whole month this year. Photo: Fraport

In April 2020, Frankfurt handled a total of just 188,078 passengers across the whole month. That’s a fall of 96.9% from April of 2019. This means that the airport handled fewer passengers in an entire month than it would normally be expecting in a single day.

Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
Passenger numbers at Frankfurt Airport have plummeted. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: Fraport

However, it seems as though Frankfurt is faring relatively well. The airport’s owners, Fraport, commented that based on data from EUROCONTROL, the airport handled more daily movements than any other airport in Europe. It saw an average of 218 takeoffs and landings each day.

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Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
Frankfurt Airport has a sizeable cargo operation. Photo: Fraport

In terms of cargo, Frankfurt did notice a fall in tonnes that started or ended their journey at the airport. However, the decrease between March and April was about the same as experienced in 2019. Indeed, while passenger services have taken a hit, airlines such as Lufthansa have been turning passenger aircraft into makeshift freighters.

Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
The German airport has only seen a minimal drop in cargo figures. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: Fraport

London Heathrow passengers

London Heathrow has experienced a similar drop in the number of passengers that it carried in April 2020. The airport hasn’t released an exact figure, however, said that 200,000 passengers traveled through its facilities last month. The airline’s average daily number of passengers in 2019 was 219,458.

Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
Heathrow Airport has also seen a considerable drop in passengers. Photo: Heathrow Airport

Heathrow was the seventh busiest airport in the world in 2019, and the most active in Europe. However, its passenger count fell by a total of 97% in April 2020. The airport handled just 4,868 aircraft movements over the last month. For comparison, in 2019, the airline’s average daily movements stood at 1,303.

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Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
The airport handled around 6,667 passengers per day in April 2020. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: Heathrow Airport

Comparing the two airports

Comparing London Heathrow with Frankfurt produces some interesting results that differ vastly between passenger and cargo. Let’s start by taking a look at the difference in passenger movements.

Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
Frankfurt’s drop in passenger traffic started slightly later than that of Heathrow. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: Fraport/Heathrow Airport

Both Heathrow and Frankfurt have seen a month on month decline for each month in 2020. Heathrow already produced a noticeable drop between January and February, while the same change was marginal in Frankfurt. However, since February, the number of passengers fell reasonably consistently. While Frankfurt handled 1.5 million fewer passengers in January, both airports are now managing a similar number of people.

Heathrow, Passenger Number, Fall
Heathrow has seen a record number of dedicated cargo flights. Photo: Heathrow Airport

However, the picture couldn’t be more different when it comes to freight operations. Heathrow has seen the amount of freight handled drop each month since February. This is despite the airport handling a record number of dedicated freight flights. The reason for this decline is the fact that passenger aircraft aren’t operating, and as such, the total cargo capacity has dropped.

Passenger Figures, Frankfurt Airport, Heathrow Airport
Heathrow’s cargo handled has dropped far more than that of Frankfurt Airport. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: Fraport/Heathrow Airport

Meanwhile, Frankfurt has been home to a sizeable freight operation since the current situation began to unfold. The German center of aviation saw the amount of freight it handled increase in March. As the majority of Frankfurt’s cargo is carried on dedicated freighters, it hasn’t seen a considerable decrease in capacity.

What do you make of the figures? Have we reached the bottom, or will they be worse for May? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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