Bonn The tourism industry in the region is slowly seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Cologne/Bonn Airport expects 4.5 million passengers this year - a good third of the level before the Corona crisis. Germans love one island in particular.
People in Germany have had enough of balconies: Between 50 and 70 percent of those surveyed wanted to finally travel again this summer, Ingo Burmester, head of DER Touristik Central Europe, quoted the results of a survey. DER Touristik, the travel division of the Rewe Group, is already noticing this in strongly rising booking figures. If you compare the corresponding weeks in 2019 and 2021, they are even 50 percent above the level before the Corona crisis at the end of May, Burmester explained at a virtual press briefing on Monday.
There's a lot of catching up to do. He was "a bit more optimistic," said Johan Vanneste, CEO of Cologne/Bonn Airport. Even though the airport is still "in dire straits," he said, "the light at the end of the tunnel is a little brighter again." Starting in June, Vanneste expects 10,000 passengers per day, and by the end of June, the number should be 15,000 again. "We used to have 40,000 passengers a day around this time." For 2021 as a whole, the airport boss expects around 4.5 million passengers, but that is only a third of the passenger volume before the pandemic.
Passengers drawn to Mallorca
The most frequent destinations are currently Spain, Greece and Turkey. In May, more than a quarter of passengers flew to Mallorca, Vanneste reported. In summer, 20 airlines will again be flying to Cologne/Bonn Airport. For July, he announced around 100 destinations and 500 takeoffs per week. Vanneste considered it a success that four new airlines had been won as customers, including the Russian low-cost airline S7, which flies to Moscow.
Jens Bischof, head of Eurowings, the most important airline in Cologne/Bonn, also reported a jump in bookings. Eurowings currently has 50 aircraft in operation, and by the summer this figure is expected to reach 80 out of a total of 100. With twelve aircraft scheduled to fly to Cologne-Bonn in June, the airline, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, would then already have quadrupled the number of aircraft in operation here within three months. In the summer, more than 200,000 guests would fly from Cologne/Bonn to their vacations.
Fresh cabin air every 90 seconds
Bishop explained that the hygiene concepts of the tour operators and especially of the airlines had proved their worth during the Corona pandemic. Not a single passenger had become infected with the corona virus on a Lufthansa Group aircraft. Hepa filters, which are also used in hospital operating theaters, contributed to this. Thus, the cabin air would be filtered and exchanged every 90 seconds. Airport boss Vanneste reported that for passengers in a hurry who still needed a PCR test, there has been a rapid test station at the airport since last week, which delivers the result within an hour.
Eurowings now allows its customers to check in online, where there is also a box for Covid vaccinations. Those who have been vaccinated twice can check a box there and then also receive their boarding pass online. However, because there is not yet an electronic vaccination certificate, this is not yet possible on the return flight, Bischof explained. Therefore, passengers would still have to present the vaccination and test certificates directly at the check-in at the foreign airport. The reason is that airlines face heavy fines if they transport passengers without a negative test or double vaccination.
Airport lacks business travelers
Pre-crisis levels could be reached by Cologne/Bonn Airport in 2025/26, Vanneste said. The reason is, among other things, that many business trips to Berlin have fallen away. "There is a partial shift to rail." In addition, he said, videoconferencing has become established. The company could be in the black again for the first time in 2023, according to Vanneste. The freight business would help, of course. "We earn less here, but it's an essential building block of our airport."
Original text: Ulla Thiede
Translation: Mareike Graepel