During the two months of summer holidays, Brussels Airport recorded passenger numbers of more than 50% of 2019’s figures, a trend that continued through September with no fewer than 1.3 million passengers over the month, i.e. 52% of pre-crisis numbers. Cargo continues its strong growth month after month, with a 23% increase in volumes in September compared to September 2020.
In September, 1,302,967 passengers travelled via Brussels Airport. This represents a decrease of 48% compared to September 2019, but a clear increase compared to September 2020, when only 379,303 passengers passed through the airport. In terms of passenger numbers, September is comparable to the past two holiday months and is, together with August, the second month this year with over 1.3 million passengers.
As was the case in August, Brussels Airport welcomed more passengers arriving than departing during September, even though many passengers chose September for their holidays. Consequently, leisure flights, especially intra-European flights, were very successful, as were visits to family and friends abroad and second-home stays. Finally, the changeable weather in September in Belgium gave a boost to the demand for flights to the sun.
The top 10 most popular travel destinations in September were, in order: Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Turkey, France, Germany, Morocco, Switzerland and the USA. Greece (96% of 2019 figures) and Morocco (112% of 2019 figures) continue their strong growth. The top ten destinations in September were Barcelona, Lisbon, Madrid, Rome, Malaga, Milan, Alicante, Istanbul, Porto and Nice.
The proportion of departing transfer passengers was 16%, slightly lower than in 2019, due to the strong recovery in originating traffic.
Total cargo volumes continued to grow in September (+23% compared to 2020), a trend that is expected to continue in the coming months, thanks to strong demand for air cargo capacity. Brussels Airport is a strong player compared to other airports. This growth and the quality of the services provided have been recognised by the sector, which recently presented Brussels Airport with the Air Cargo News award for 'Best Cargo Hub'. The growth of air cargo (+19%) can be observed in all three segments, with full-freighter volumes going up by 25%, integrator volumes by 6%, and belly cargo by 52%. The latter result can be explained by the increase in the number of passenger flights.
In the full cargo segment, Brussels Airport again saw growth with almost all existing customers. New routes from Asia in particular are contributing to this growth. Asia remains the most significant region, followed by North America and Africa.
The transport of Covid-19 vaccines to and from Brussels Airport continues, with over 350 million vaccines handled at the airport to date. Currently, Brussels Airport also accommodates many vaccine flights to African countries thanks to the donations of vaccines from European Union Member States via the COVAX platform.
In September 2021, the total number of flight movements decreased by 35% compared to the pre-crisis period (2019). Brussels Airport recorded 13,954 movements (compared to 21,533 in September 2019). The number of passenger flights decreased by 45%. The average occupancy rate per flight was 125 passengers, compared to 132 in September 2019.
In September 2021, the number of full cargo flights increased by 14% compared to last year. The proportion of cargo-only passenger flights remained stable in September. Passenger aircraft are still needed due to the high demand for airfreight capacity. These aircraft are also often used to transport vaccines from Brussels Airport.