CPH traffic data: Aviation at a near standstill in January

Like the rest of the country, aviation is at a near standstill. This January was the quietest start to a calendar year for decades with an average of a mere 132 daily takeoffs and landings at CPH. In January 2020, that figure was 617. The government initiative to develop a “corona passport” and the progress of the national vaccination programme light a candle in the coronavirus darkness. 

After a brief recovery during the summer months when passenger numbers climbed to almost 20 per cent of normal volumes, traffic at CPH was back at historic lows at the beginning of 2021. Only 174,970 passengers passed through the terminals in January – that is 8.9 per cent of passenger traffic in January of last year.

“This January was in every way a sad start to the year at Copenhagen Airport, and the outlook for February is even bleaker bearing in mind the new travel restrictions with requirements of mandatory quarantine and a negative COVID-19 test result for all travellers on international arrivals,” says Chief Commercial Officer Peter Krogsgaard of Copenhagen Airport.

This means all arriving passengers must go through Falck’s test facilities in Piers E and C for a rapid COVID-19 test before they go through passport control. The test is free of charge.

Travel with two passports
Even though the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has knocked the bottom out of the aviation industry, there are no immediate prospects of any public relief schemes similar to those available in 2020. It is estimated that the crisis has cost as many as 10,000 jobs in the Danish aviation industry alone, many of them in and around Copenhagen Airport.
“That’s why we need help to reboot. We’re seeing a tiny flicker of light in the coronavirus darkness that has descended on the aviation industry in Denmark and the rest of the world: The rollout of the national vaccination programme and, not least, the government’s decision to develop a new digital corona passport in partnership with the Confederation of Danish Industry, the Danish Chamber of Commerce and the aviation industry itself. That’s really good news,” says Krogsgaard.

The initial plan is to have an ordinary print-version passport ready for business travellers within a month. At the same time, work will begin on developing a digital passport for all Danish residents which is expected to be ready by the summer.

“In the future, Danish nationals will need to remember two passports: their official Danish passport and a digital corona passport. That will create a sense of assurance and allow us to begin travelling again in a secure and responsible way without spreading the disease. However, it is essential that a common standard is developed, one that will make the corona passport valid and internationally accepted,” Krogsgaard emphasises.

Plunge in googling for “Travel”
January is usually the month when Danes start to book their winter, Easter and summer holidays, but a look at Google trends shows that the number of searches for “Rejser”, the Danish word for travel, has dropped steadily since March of last year. In July 2020, the number of searches had halved, and this January it was at less than 25 per cent.

“The good news is that people are still searching for Rejser even with the world in virtual lockdown. But the numbers also show that in January many people were becoming discouraged, which is quite understandable in a world so uncertain. That’s what makes the vaccines and an international corona passport so crucial to restore confidence and the desire to plan travels and to want to explore the world,” says Krogsgaard.

Domestic travel not as hard hit
Given the current travel restrictions and the whole world a ‘Red’ restricted-travel-only category, it is no surprise that the European and overseas routes are the most affected. Normally, international routes account for 94.5 per cent of traffic at Copenhagen Airport. In January, 79 per cent of the few flights still left were to international destinations.

As a look at the top-ten of destinations reveals, domestic travel is not as severely affected. London, normally the runaway number one destination, and several other major hubs have been surpassed by Danish destinations like Aalborg and Rønne in first and third place respectively. In fact, these two destinations account for 14 per cent of all travellers to and from Copenhagen. However, the numbers also tell the story that while the slump in domestic air travel is not as severe, it is nevertheless a cause for concern:

“Obviously, it’s difficult to run a commercial airport when there are virtually no passengers, But right now, Danes have not only very few travel options, they are also afraid to travel. However, we’re sure that the new corona passport will create confidence and reawaken people’s appetite for travel. Hopefully, it’ll be the glimpse of light for aviation that we need to leave the darkness behind created by the coronavirus, even though we’re well aware that the recovery may take a long time,” concludes Krogsgaard.