The Corona crisis continues to have a firm grip on Frankfurt Airport. Instead of the slow recovery hoped for, passenger numbers at Germany’s largest hub fell again in September. Continued travel restrictions and the intensified pandemic do not lead us to expect any improvement for the rest of the year either.
Just under 1.15 million passengers were counted in the month, 83 percent fewer than a year earlier, as operator Fraport reported on Tuesday. This was also around 360000 passengers less than in August, when the year-on-year decrease was "only 78 percent of the total. The other German airports and their association ADV also confirm the trend: after a brief summer peak, passenger numbers have been trending downward since mid-August.
On the back burner for months
Germany’s largest airport has already been running on a tight budget for months. Not until next Thursday will the fourth runway, Runway West, be put back into operation after almost six months of compulsory shutdown. This would not really be necessary for the still sparse flight operations, only the shorter distances to the de-icing facility allow the operation of "18 West" seem to make sense during the winter months.
20,000 instead of more than 200,000 passengers are now counted by those responsible on a normal autumn holiday day. One passenger terminal is completely closed, the larger Terminal 1 is only partially occupied. The only place where there’s a bit of action is in the transition building to the airport train station, where the Corona test center is located. But even here the queues are manageable. The pandemic has also hit hard the numerous stores and restaurants that otherwise make a good living from passengers. Meanwhile, about 60 percent of the stores are open again, says a Fraport spokesman. If necessary, he said, an agreement has been reached with the operators.
Job cuts foreseeable
Passenger numbers are not expected to reach a new reliable baseline until 2022/2023, which Fraport CEO Stefan Schulte puts at 15 to 20 percent below the record figure from 2019 of just over 70 million. If up to 15 million fewer people come to the airport, the airport operator will also need fewer staff. The company wants to cut between 3000 and 4000 of the approximately 22000 jobs in the most socially acceptable way possible, and in the meantime is making intensive use of short-time work options.
Severance payments offered
Around 2,300 Fraport employees have shown interest in the severance packages on offer so far. The actual acceptance rate will probably not be known until the end of October, because the company must also, in the sense of "double voluntariness" See who you let go with a financial incentive. According to trade unionists, the handshake is not too golden anyway, because with a rate of between 0.75 and 1.0 gross salaries per year of employment, at least no huge sums come together.
Regardless of the Corona shock, the expansion of Germany’s largest airport continues at a gentle pace. The third passenger terminal in the south of the site, with an annual capacity of around 25 million passengers, corresponds to established airports such as Dusseldorf or Berlin-Tegel. It is now scheduled to go online in 2025, a good year later than initially planned.