Projects postponed but Vienna turns the corner with traffic numbers

Bernie Baldwin

Capacity for travellers is returning to 2019 levels and this is expected to continue, despite the pandemic.

To achieve this, the airport’s operator – Flughafen Wien – has focused on cost control, which has led to infrastructure projects being delayed.

Airport spokesperson Peter Kleemann acknowledges that the situation regarding the revamp of the airport’s non-Schengen East Pier and the extension to Terminal 3 is that these projects are on hold due to the strong passenger decrease in the last 20 months. It is a similar scenario for the development of the third runway. “The project is officially confirmed by the federal authorities, but there is no realisation date decided yet,” he reports.

According to Günther Ofner, a member of Flughafen Wien’s management board, the company does not expect a repeat of the considerable losses incurred in 2020 even with the pandemic continuing. Before recent stronger restrictions were introduced, the company believed its cost reduction measures, delayed investments and growing traffic volumes would mean that the targeted return to profitability ought to be achieved in the 2021 annual results. At the time of writing, the effects of these new rules on traffic was undetermined.

The company still expects 2022 to be a growth year with new projects starting to create 1,000 new jobs at the airport over the coming years. “In this regard, sustainability is a top priority. The country’s largest photovoltaic plant spanning 24 hectares will be put into operation in the spring of 2022,” states Ofner.

In October 2021, the company registered four times as many passengers as in October 2020 and the 2021/22 winter flight schedule approached pre-pandemic levels with 150 destinations offered. Figures reported for January to September 2021 for the whole Flughafen Wien Group including Malta Airport and Kosice Airport, though, showed a drop in passengers handled by 2.4% year-on-year to a total of 8,541,899 passengers, down 71.9% compared with Q1-3/2019. At Vienna Airport itself, 6,794,688 passengers passed through, which was 71.6% below the Q1-3/2019 level.

Nevertheless, the Group’s predicts traffic in 2021 to be 12-13 million travellers, with Vienna Airport accounting for more than 10 million of those.

The winter flight schedule for the 2021/22 season has seen the return of long-haul destinations such as the Maldives and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean alongside Cancún. Low-fare carriers Wizz Air and Ryanair have each added to their route networks from Vienna with a total of thirteen destinations between them. This, along with Aegean, Air Cairo, Corendon Airlines,, Pegasus Airlines, Sunexpress, Transavia France, Volotea, Air Canada, Ethiopian Airlines, Etihad and SAUDIA all operating again from Vienna, is how the airport is close to 90% of the pre-crisis offering of 172 destinations in 2019.

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5-7 Jun 2024