The airport hopes the introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine will aid recovery

Copenhagen Airport (CPH) has revealed that only 7.5 million people travelled through the site in 2020, a 75.1 per cent drop compared with the previous year. The airport has not seen a decline this steep since 1970, when passenger numbers were around 6.8 million.  

Since March 15, 2020, CPH has recorded an average of 9,749 passengers per day. This is the lowest daily average seen in over 55 years; in 1965 the figure was 9,559 travellers.

"Air travellers during the pandemic have been mainly business people and people making essential family visits,” said Peter Krogsgaard, Chief Commerical Officer of Copenhagen Airport. “The only time there was a slight let up or joie de vivre was during a brief period in July and August when holiday travellers were able to go to a handful of countries not on the list to which the authorities advised against travel. In December, a fair number of people travelled home for Christmas, so we had 253,000 passengers during that month - though still a drop of 88 per cent from a year earlier.”

In the autumn of last year, the Danish airport relied on loans from banks in order to proceed with operations.

Krogsgaard believes that the rollout of the Coronavirus vaccine will give the industry a chance for recovery: “The assurance provided by the vaccines will allow us to gradually return to normality and give us the freedom to travel, especially if international rules are devised on a COVID-19 certificate.”

After borders were forced to close on March 14, the priority was conducting flights carrying personal protective equipment (PPE) and emergency flights to rescue Danes stranded internationally.

It was also crucial for air cargo traffic to be retained. Fortunately for CPH, cargo traffic delivering items such as food, medicine and machinery only fell by 30 per cent (222,783 tonnes). Cargo shipped with passenger planes fell due to the reduction and closure of certain routes, whereas pure air cargo traffic increased.

Krogsgaard  stressed the importance of air cargo: “It's essential that Denmark can keep its exports going and still trade with the rest of the world, so it's fortunate that the air cargo business has done all right during the crisis.”

Throughout the pandemic, flights to London from Copenhagen were the most popular. However, this dropped in December after the discovery of the new variant of the virus. Danish destinations such as Ronne and Aalborg became more popular destinations than the British capital.

“We must keep Denmark connected to the rest of the world – no matter what,” Krogsgaard emphasised.