Traffic is slowly picking up

After the sharp decline in spring, air traffic in Germany is recovering – albeit only slowly and from a low level. This is shown by the traffic figures published by DFS, the German air navigation service provider, for the first six months of this year.

10.07.2020.- Between the beginning of January and the end of June 2020, DFS recorded a total of 757,945 flights in German airspace. This is 52.9 per cent fewer than in the same period last year, when 1,610,716 flights under instrument flight rules were recorded. This is the sharpest decline in the history of DFS. At the beginning of the year, traffic volumes were only slightly below the record level of the previous year. As a result of the corona restrictions, however, volumes collapsed in mid-March.

Only one tenth of the traffic at rock bottom

The weakest month so far was April. Just under 36,000 flights were counted in the skies above Germany in April 2020, which is 87.1 percent fewer than in the same month last year and half as many as in a normal week in April. Since then, traffic volumes have been slowly increasing. In May, a weak upward trend was seen, which continued in the following month. In June, DFS recorded 65,974 flights under instrument flight rules in German airspace, 78.3 percent fewer than in the same month last year.

A similar development can be seen at the airports in Germany. Here, traffic as measured by the number of take-offs and landings also dropped to a historic low (April 2020: 25,155 aircraft movements, minus 86.9 percent). But traffic is now slowly recovering. In June, the figures rose to 46,869 take-offs and landings, 77.1 percent fewer than in the same month last year. However, the development at the 16 designated international airports controlled by DFS and at the regional airports varied considerably. While in June 2020 the number of take-offs and landings at the regional airports such as Dortmund, Frankfurt Hahn and Memmingen had already risen to 44.8 percent of the previous year's level, the traffic volume at the international airports was still 79.6 percent below the same month last year.

Cargo airports at an advantage

Not all airports where DFS operates are being affected by the decline to the same extent. At airports where cargo flights account for a large share of traffic, the effects have been much less severe. For example, traffic at Leipzig Halle Airport, where the logistics company DHL has established its European hub, has been stable despite the crisis. In the second quarter of 2020, 28.8 percent fewer flights were handled there than in the same period last year. In mid-April for one day, Leipzig Halle Airport was even the busiest airport in Europe. At Cologne Bonn Airport, where a large proportion of traffic is also cargo flights, the decline in the second quarter was 67.1 percent.

The slump at the other international airports has been much more pronounced. At Munich Airport, Germany's second-largest airport, the traffic in the period from April to June was 92.1 percent lower than the previous year’s figure. The decline was not quite as sharp at Germany's largest airport in Frankfurt, where 82.6 percent fewer flights took off and landed in the second quarter compared with the prior-year period. Here, too, an upward trend has been experienced since the trough in April. In June 2020, traffic volumes in Munich were 87.4 percent, and in Frankfurt 79.6 percent below the prior-year figures.

Media contact:
Kristina Kelek
Telephone: +49 (0)6103 / 707-4161

DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,600 employees as at 31 December 2019. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Around 2,200 air traffic controllers guide up to 10,000 flights in German airspace every day, more than three million movements every year. This makes Germany the country with the highest traffic volume in Europe. The company operates control centres in Langen, Bremen, Karlsruhe and Munich as well as control towers at the 16 designated international airports in Germany. The subsidiary DFS Aviation Services GmbH markets and sells products and services related to air navigation services, and provides air traffic control at nine regional airports in Germany and at London Gatwick Airport and Edinburgh Airport in the UK. DFS has been working on the integration of drones into air traffic since 2016 and has set up a joint venture, Droniq GmbH, with Deutsche Telekom.

More information:
You can find more information about the traffic development on the DFS homepage at AboutDFS/statistics.