FBB reveals pandemic recovery predictions

In the worst-case scenario, air traffic may not be restored to pre-coronavirus levels until 2027

A strategy conference to discuss the detrimental effects the pandemic has had on German airport operator, Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH (FBB) took place on Monday (Jan 25).

Addressing the supervisory board over a video call, the executive board laid out business strategies for the course of this year. The meeting, which was meant to be carried out over two days, was shortened to one day due to the current coronavirus situation.

The supervisory board was told by the executive board that passenger traffic is still at an all-time low due to the global pandemic. In the first few weeks of January, only 7,500 customers were handled per day at Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport (BER) – around 10% lower than last year’s figures.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport
Photo Berlin Brandenburg Airport 

According to the operator’s predictions, less than a third of air traffic seen in 2019 can be achieved this year, with an estimate of 10.7 million passengers.

The executive board presented three possible scenarios which outline when pre-crisis figures – of around 35.6 million in 2019 – can be achieved again.

“Unfortunately, the economic situation of the airports in Germany is still very critical because of the pandemic and a recovery is still a long way off. That is why we are now focusing on the finances after the commissioning and, in doing so, on the economic activities of the company,” said Rainer Bretschneider, chairman of the supervisory board of FBB.

In the best case, a full recovery could be possible in two years’ time, however the worst case reveals that air traffic will not recuperate until 2027, according to the executive board.

The global rollout and availability of the COVID-19 vaccine, relaxed and diminished quarantine regulations and the speed of which the economy is able to improve are all factors that contribute to the rate of which the aviation sector will recover.

Engelbert Lutke Daldrup, chief executive officer of FBB, reiterated the importance of the vaccine dispersal: “Travel restrictions will only be eased or lifted when a vaccine against the coronavirus is globally and extensively available. Therefore, the airport company only expects air traffic to recover to pre-crisis levels in 2025. As a company, we will make every effort to work as cost-effectively as possible until then.”

A middle scenario was also discussed, stating that pre-coronavirus levels could be restored by 2025. This was presented as a realistic figure, allowing passenger growth to return by one to two percent annually.

This projection means that around 83 million fewer passengers would pass through BER between this year and 2025, which has considerable economic consequences.

As well as recovery predictions, the executive board also presented a detailed savings plan, due to be implemented over the next few years.

The plan includes strict expenditure controls, delayed structural expansion at BER and the reorganisation of personnel structure. Projects such as the decommissioning of Terminal 5 and suspending the use of the Southern railway will also help reduce costs.