Hamburg Airport faces toughest year in its history

Numbers are down, but introduction of Covid-19 vaccine gives hope that passenger numbers will begin to recover

Hamburg Airport saw a total of 4.56 million passengers throughout the entirety of 2020, a 73.7 percent reduction of what was recorded in 2019.

Due to the severe drop in passenger traffic, and the freezing of operations across multiple intervals, the airport experienced the most difficult year in its post-war history.

In 2020, aircraft movements at the German base declined by 56.8 percent compared with the previous year. An even steeper decrease was seen from commercial flights, with the number of take-off and landings falling by 63 percent.

An essential service still ran through the lockdown period from Hamburg to Northern Germany.

In comparison to 2019, all aspects of passenger traffic declined in 2020 at the airport. The average number of passengers per flight reduced from 124 to 88, while the number of seats per flight fell from 159 to 148.

Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO of Hamburg Airport, is hopeful that this year will see an improvement for the industry’s recovery. “Many airlines are planning to further reduce their timetables in the coming weeks. But for the summer timetable, we anticipate a slight recovery. Tests and vaccinations are giving us hope. Going on summer vacation by plane will be possible again in 2021. We can sense that people want to be mobile, they want to explore the world and they want to finally see their friends and families again after months of separation. We are already preparing for demand to start climbing again as soon as travel becomes easier.”


Hamburg was focussed on infrastructure growth before the pandemic hit, and the virus has not created a huge impact on this element. The airport also carried out rescue and aid flights which transported protective and hygiene supplies.

Despite Covid-19, Hamburg was still able to complete projects such as the refurbishment of Apron 1, the roof repairs of Terminal 2 and the modernisation of the baggage and security system. Passengers can also now use the self-bag-drop kiosk for a contactless check-in service.

Presently, it is hoped that passenger figures will begin to recover this year with the introduction of the vaccine. “We are currently anticipating around 48 percent of the 2019 passenger volume for 2021 as a whole, but that remains a cautious assumption,” said Eggenschwiler.

Although Hamburg faced many challenges throughout 2020, it has still managed to maintain around 70 direct routes.