Budding optimism may be measured in many ways. Optimism at Copenhagen Airport, for example, is seeing the reopening of the central Tax-free shop on 1 June or the long-awaited increase in passenger numbers, even if it is only slight.
“Following an almost complete lockdown, things are starting to happen again in the terminals and travel vibes are staging a comeback. The pandemic is loosening its grip on Europe, vaccines are being rolled out, travel restrictions are being eased, the joy of travel is in the air, and after the worst crisis in living memory, things are finally brightening up for the aviation industry after 15 months in the dark shadows of the coronavirus,” says Chief Commercial Officer Peter Krogsgaard of Copenhagen Airports A/S.
The number of travellers increased by 40 per cent to 258,240 from April to May. That is an average of 8,300 per day and still a long way off from the usual 83,000 travellers on an average day pre-COVID.
“The early months of this year traffic was like in 1962. It’s been quite surreal, so it’s great news to see the numbers climbing slowly for the first time this year, so business is starting to recover,” says Krogsgaard.
In the terminals there are now five lounges and 35 shops, café’s and restaurants open – in total more than a fourth of what was before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
The world is turning amber
Every Friday, the authorities have been opening up for travel to and from more regions and countries across Europe, and that has boosted booking activity for airlines and travel agencies.
“If this positive trend continues and more and more parts of Europe are put on the amber or orange lists of the travel recommendations, the travel industry might after all receive the kiss of life this summer – at long last. The current outlook is for a summer with traffic at perhaps 20–40 per cent of pre-pandemic volumes,” explains Krogsgaard.
The airlines are currently serving more than 60 destinations from Copenhagen, and the best guesstimate is that this number will grow to as many as 130 by July.
“The crisis that’s brought the aviation industry to its knees isn’t about capacity, it’s about demand. There are plenty of aircraft available, plenty of travel destinations, we have a healthy and safe airport; now, all we need is passengers, and it looks like they’re slowly returning,” he says.
However, travellers should remember to bring extra patience this summer. Departing from an airport will take longer than people are used to, both in Denmark and in all of Europe, because all check-in procedures must be done in person, as passengers will be required to show a valid COVID passport, a COVID status certificate or similar. In pre-COVID times, one half of travellers checked in from home on the CPH website and were thus able to go directly to security. Rules have also changed for family and friends who are not travelling.
“Due to social distancing measures and gathering restrictions, only travellers and airport and aviation staff are allowed in the terminals. So this summer, people will be not allowed inside the buildings to send friends and family members off or welcome them home. Hopefully, that will change by next summer,” says Krogsgaard.
Test at Arrival
Arriving at Copenhagen Airport will also be different from what we remember pre-COVID. From this weekend arrivals from “yellow” EU countries and regions in Schengen will be tested outside the terminals. All others will be tested inside the terminals
If you arrive from an EU/Schengen country and have a domestic transfer to another Danish airport, you need a COVID-19 test at gate B2 before you can proceed.
“At the end of June, the expectation is that passengers arriving from so-called “yellow” safe countries in the EU/Schengen will no longer have to be tested,” says Krogsgaard.
Expectedly, people arriving from orange-listed EU/Schengen countries will have to be tested outside the terminal building. Arrivals from non-EU countries or from so-called red-listed countries will be required to take a test in the terminal before going through passport control, which is mandatory anyway for all travellers arriving from a non-Schengen country.