22.2 million passengers at Brussels Airport in 2023, up 17% on 2022 - 701,000 tonnes of cargo transported through the airport

Brussels Airport - General

No less than 22.2 million passengers travelled through Brussels Airport in 2023, up 17% on 2022. 2023 was the year in which the post-covid recovery continued, whereby the leisure segment, both holiday traffic and visits to family and friends, almost fully recovered. In terms of cargo, there was a 10% drop in volumes to 701,000 tonnes of total cargo carried, flown cargo was down 6%. With this result Brussels Airport outperforms competing European airports.

“After doubling our passenger numbers in 2022, we recorded a further 17% recovery last year. Together with the entire airport community, we achieved this great result, getting no fewer than 22.2 million passengers to their destinations smoothly and comfortably with a solid service. We were able to further complement and strengthen our network, both for leisure, visiting family and friends, and for business travel. In terms of cargo too, despite the global trend and geopolitical situation, our cargo community transported a high volume of cargo, outperforming competing European airports.”, says Arnaud Feist, CEO of Brussels Airport Company.

Passenger traffic: up 17% on 2022

In 2023 Brussels Airport welcomed 22,200,755 passengers. This is an increase of 17% on 2022 (18.9 million passengers), and 84% of the 2019 level (26.4 million passengers).

The past year saw a continued post-covid pandemic recovery, whereby the leisure segment, both holiday traffic and visits to family and friends, almost fully recovered. There is also a clear recovery in terms of business travel, but this recovery is tempered by more teleconferences, pursuit of cost savings and efficiency and more environmental awareness, affecting shorter-distance business trips in particular. Travel to and from Asia has also not yet fully recovered. Since October, the cancellation of flights to Israel has also had an impact.

The number of transfer passengers grew by 21% to 15% of all passengers, showing a very clear recovery of hub activity, with Brussels Airport as a major Star Alliance hub in Europe. 

The 10 countries with the most passengers in 2023 were respectively Spain, Germany, Italy, Turkey, the United States, France, Portugal, Greece, Morocco and the United Kingdom. 

In December Brussels Airport welcomed 1,596,443 passengers, representing a 10% growth in passenger numbers compared to December 2022. The top 10 countries in December were Spain, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland, Turkey, Morocco, France and Portugal respectively. Due to the start of the Christmas holidays, there were more departures than arrivals during this month. 

Cargo: 6% drop in cargo flown compared to 2022

In 2023 the total cargo volume amounted to 700,846 tonnes, or a 10% decrease compared to 2022. Air cargo traffic at Brussels Airport experienced a 6% decrease compared to 2022, in line with the global trend. But Brussels Airport outperforms competing European airports with this result.

The full freighter segment is down 11% from 2022. Belly cargo increased by 4.5% given the continued recovery of passenger flights. Finally, the express services recorded a 6% decline compared to 2022. Overall, global freight volumes were under pressure throughout the year due to the ongoing geopolitical situation.

The primary import regions in 2023 were Asia, Africa and North America. Asia also ranked first in terms of exports, followed by North America and Africa. 

In December cargo transport at Brussels Airport recorded a 21% decrease compared to December 2022. We also recorded a decline in the full freighter segment (-36%), express services (-15%) and trucked cargo (-27%). Belly cargo remained stable with a slight increase of 0.2% compared to December 2022. 


The total number of flight movements increased by 7% in 2023 compared to 2022, to 192,257 flight movements. However, this number remains 18% lower than in 2019. The number of passenger flights increased by 12% compared to 2022. The number of passengers per flight is up from 135 to a new record of 141, due to the use of larger aircraft and an ever-increasing load factor. The number of cargo flights is down 8% compared to 2022.

There were 16,284 commercial flight movements during the night (between 11pm and 6am) in 2023, which is lower than in 2022 (16,616 commercial night flight movements). In addition, there were 187 helicopter flights and 102 exempted flights (military flights, government flights, etc.).

The independent slot coordinator allocates up to 16,000 night slots annually as stipulated by law. In 2023, the slot coordinator awarded 15,733 night slots, which complies with the legal limit. There are often operational reasons for night flights without night slots, such as delays or operational problems. The slot coordinator reports these flights every month to the DGLV in charge.

In December there were 14,415 flight movements at Brussels Airport, an increase of 6% compared to December 2022. The number of passenger flights rose by 11% and there was an average of 135 passengers per flight. The number of cargo flights decreased by 14% compared to 2022.