Curaçao International Airport – Q4 and Year End Overview 2021
The long and winding road to recovery and stability
Curaçao International Airport’s 2021 fourth quarter results were the highest since re-opening the borders for commercial passenger traffic in July 2020. The overall positive results over the second semester of 2021 were as anticipated by Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP). The impact of the pandemic and the virus mutations continue to influence the recovery and stabilization of CAP’s route network and passenger traffic. CAP therefor remains cautiously optimistic.
Departing Traffic during Q4 2021 continues to be driven by The Netherlands with a 58% traffic share; followed by the Caribbean 17%; USA 13% and South America 11%. Monthly traffic figures for Q4 21 indicate overall passenger traffic increased in October by +15% compared to September 2021. November traffic increased by +12% compared to October 2021 and December traffic increased by +20% over November 2021.
The average monthly Load Factors (occupied seats per flight) was 80% in October 2021; 75% in November 2021 and 72% in December 2021. The average load factor for Q4 2021 was 76%.
Traffic recovery compared to the same months in 2019 was 90% for October; 94% for November and 90% for December 2021. With 338,766 passenger movements, an average Load Factor of 76%, an average recovery of 92%, Q4 2021 is the best performing quarter thus far since commercial passenger traffic restarted in July 2020.
In comparing Q4 21 to Q3 21, overall passenger traffic grew from 285,676 to 338,766 passenger movements, an increase of +19%. Fall holidays in October, pend up travel demand, restart of air service from Canada and the United States, launch and increase of service from South America (Medellin, Bogota, Paramaribo and Panama) and a new gateway Brussels, Belgium added to the growth of traffic during the fourth quarter of 2021. However, the rapid rise of a new variant of the virus, Omicron, did have a negative impact on traffic figures in the second half of December 2021.
2021 in review
The pandemic fueled by two (2) variants, Delta in the beginning of the year and Omicron towards the end of 2021, reiterated that airline and airport business remain very volatile and unpredictable amidst recovery.
The rapid recovery from the increase of the Delta variant in Q2 2021 due to drastic government measures and a massive vaccination campaign at the end of March 2021 ensured the continuation of passenger traffic growth as of mid-May 2021 throughout the remainder of the year.
Curaçao International Airport YE 2021 traffic figures show total passenger movements at 830,145 compared to 548,000 YE 2020; a 52% increase over 2020. YE 2021 passenger traffic recovery compared to YE2019 was 57%. YE 2020 passenger traffic recovery compared to 2019 was 38%. According to Airports Council International (ACI), YE 2021 overall traffic recovery estimates for the airport industry will be between 45% and 55% compared to 2019.
Airlineweekly indicated that industry experts agree that this year’s pandemic pattern will govern the way airlines operate for the foreseeable future, as Covid-19 goes from being a pandemic to an endemic disease. New variants and outbreaks will occur, and airlines will adjust capacity and schedules in response to demand. A major difference between when the Delta and Omicron variants emerged, however, is the development and deployment of effective vaccines, which began at the end of 2020.
ACI latest 2021 passenger survey shows that 48% of respondents have travelled since the beginning of the pandemic. The survey suggests that respondents who have travelled during the pandemic are more likely to travel by air again sooner and more frequently. These observations highlight that, on returning to air travel, the journey feels safe and secure. In contrast, those that have not yet flown since the beginning of the crisis tend to be less confident as they have not yet experienced the changes that airports have implemented across the passenger journey. This issue is further intensified by the lack of harmonized measures across governments, particularly regarding international travel.
Q4 and YE 2021 results indicate that passenger traffic recovery remains highly dependent on the pandemic and virus mutations. In comparison to YE 2020, the severity of the pandemic on public health and the economy, was managed differently and more effectively by governments and health officials. In addition, aggressive vaccination campaigns including booster shots had positive effects on the demand for travel. CAP foresees recovery to remain volatile until traffic stabilizes and that depends on the continued impact of the pandemic, aircraft and crew availability and travel requirements. CAP continues to work closely with our tourism partners, CTB, CHATA and CASHA supporting efforts to further stimulate demand and growth of visitors to Curaçao.