Cologne/Bonn · Due to a lack of passengers, Cologne/Bonn airport is currently only using one terminal. As a result, hardly any revenue is being generated in the passenger sector, but freight operations are in full swing. Nevertheless, the airport will be in the red.
“The airport is very quiet right now,” said airport manager Johan Vanneste; only six passenger planes landed in Cologne/Bonn on Wednesday, with 38 passengers on board. On a normal day before the Coronavirus crisis, 250 passenger planes flew into the airport, carrying just over 30,000 passengers. If anything, there may soon be even fewer passengers. The Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings, the largest operator in the passenger sector, wants to maintain a basic service at its major locations. Ultimately, however, Eurowings will soon be flying a residual service with five to six domestic German flights per week in Cologne/Bonn, according to Vanneste. Only Terminal 1 is currently used for flight operations, and Vanneste expects the number of passengers this year to be halved compared to last year, when 12.4 million took off or landed in Cologne/Bonn. According to Vanneste, this will lead to figures deep into the red instead of the envisaged break-even result for 2020.
More freight operations are being performed. "We play a central role in supply," said Vanneste. As a hub for important supply goods, the cargo area is currently running at full capacity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Last year, 815,000 tonnes of freight were handled in Cologne/Bonn. Currently, there are 700 cargo flights per week, which is 12 to 13 per cent more than a year ago. According to Vanneste, employees from the passenger area are currently helping out with the freight.
Stuttgart airport suspends flight operations
Stuttgart Airport will be closed for just over two weeks from Monday because of the coronavirus crisis. The cessation of flight operations has been approved from April 6 to 22, the Baden-Wuerttemberg Ministry of Transport announced on Thursday. The pandemic has brought air traffic in Stuttgart to a virtual standstill, the ministry said.
The largest freight customer in Cologne/Bonn is UPS. The US logistics company has had its European air hub here for 35 years, as UPS Germany boss Frank Sportolari emphasised, and has 43 flight connections a day in Cologne/Bonn. In addition, there are currently a few special flights, for example with medical products from Asia, such as masks or protective suits. Extra connections are also offered by DHL, FedEx, the Spanish Swiftair or Egyptair and Cargolux now also flies to Cologne/Bonn. Demand is high, also because half of the freight is usually transported in passenger aircraft, which are now mostly cancelled. Even if the freight sector is booming, according to Vanneste, it contributes only a third of the annual turnover of about 330 million euros, and the turnover in the passenger sector is just about zero. According to Vanneste, the airport has currently lost five million euros. To cushion the effects of the slump, the airport wants to save money where it can. It is also negotiating short-time working hours with employee representatives, according to Vanneste.
(Original text; Ralf Arenz, translation John Chandler)