Transport Online – Brussels Airport carried less cargo but twice as many passengers in 2022

ZAVENTEM – In 2022, Brussels Airport received almost 19 million passengers, an increase of 102 percent compared to 2021 and 72 percent of the pre-crisis level. The first half of the year was still strongly marked by travel restrictions due to Covid, while a very strong recovery started from the summer with several months where the level exceeded 80 percent of the level in 2019. In 2022, the freight department, after a record year in 2021 (+30 percent) experienced , an 8 percent decrease in volumes to reach 776,000 tons.

“After two difficult years, characterized by the Covid crisis and travel restrictions, Brussels Airport experienced very strong growth in 2022. We are proud that we were able to cope with this rapid growth and that we could continue to offer a high-quality service to our passengers, who could rediscover the pleasure of travel, whether for their holidays or to return to their families or on business trips,” says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport.

“Since last summer, our network has almost fully recovered and we have achieved 80 percent of 2019 passenger numbers for several months. The year 2023 is off to a promising start with new destinations and increased frequencies for both short-haul and long-haul flights. The cargo zone at Brussels Airport was also very active last year, after a 2021 in which all records were broken.”

Passenger traffic: an increase of 102 percent compared to 2021

In 2022, 18,930,698 passengers traveled through Brussels Airport. This is an increase of 102 percent compared to 2021 (9.4 million passengers), and almost 72 percent from the level of 2019 (26.4 million passengers).

After a first half of the year still heavily affected by Covid travel restrictions, there was a strong recovery in holiday traffic and travel to visit family and friends in the summer months, with passenger numbers up over 80 per cent from July to October. From the autumn there was also a clear recovery in business travel, in addition to the growth in the number of transfer passengers at Brussels Airport, which shows a very clear recovery in the hub activity linked to Brussels Airlines and its Star Alliance partners.

Passenger numbers were also negatively affected by three national events in 2022 (in June, November and December). On an annual basis, it is estimated that this led to almost 100,000 fewer passengers.

The number of departing transfer passengers is 15 percent compared to 18 percent in 2019, with a notable recovery especially in the second half of the year.

The ten most visited countries in 2022 were Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Portugal, USA, France, Greece, Great Britain and Morocco. Turkey, Greece and Morocco even exceeded their record levels in 2019.

In December, Brussels Airport welcomed 1.457 million passengers, representing 77 percent of the number of passengers in 2019. After four months with a result higher than 80 percent compared to 2019, the months of November and December had fewer holidaymakers than usual. Like the national event on 9 November, the day of action on 16 December also had a negative effect of around 30,000 fewer travellers. The start of the Christmas holidays also means that there were more departing than arriving passengers this month.

Freight: down 8 percent compared to 2021, after the strong increase in 2021 (+30 percent)

In 2022, the total cargo volume amounted to 775,721 tons, or a decrease of 8 percent compared to 2021. Air cargo traffic at Brussels Airport decreased by 7 percent compared to 2021. This decrease can be explained by the fact that 2021 was a real record year (+30 percent ) for the cargo zone at Brussels Airport.

In the full-cargo segment, we also noted a decrease of 13 percent compared to 2021. Cargo on board passenger flights increased by 27 percent due to the continued increase in the number of passenger flights. Finally, the express service segment recorded a 13 percent decline compared to 2021. Overall, freight volumes were under pressure throughout the year due to ongoing political tensions, shutdowns in China, the looming recession and its impact on e-commerce.

In December, cargo traffic at Brussels Airport decreased by 7 percent compared to December 2021. We also noted a decrease in the full freight (-9 percent), express services (-12 percent) and truck freight (-9 percent) segments. Due to the gradual increase in the number of passenger flights, cargo volumes on board these aircraft have increased by 9 percent compared to December 2021.

To escape

The total number of flights has increased by 51 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, to 178,930 aircraft movements. However, this figure is still 24 percent lower compared to 2019, before the crisis. The number of passenger flights has increased by 73 percent compared to 2021, when many restrictions were still in place. Compared to 2019, the number of passenger flights is 69 percent. The number of passengers per flight is 135, or an increase of almost 4 percent compared to 2019. A record for Brussels Airport, showing the use of larger, more modern and quieter aircraft, with a higher load factor.

The number of cargo flights has decreased by 10 percent compared to 2021.

In December, there were 13,642 aircraft movements at Brussels Airport, an increase of 8 percent compared to December 2021. The number of passenger flights was 72 percent of the number in 2019. The number of passengers per flight was 137, or 6 percent more than in December 2019. The number of cargo flights has decreased by 15 percent compared to 2021.

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