Curacao International Airport – Q1 2022 – Strong Recovery despite continued challenges
Curaçao International Airport’s first quarter positive traffic and recovery figures surpassed the forecast despite the negative Omicron virus spread in early 2022. Pent up demand and the easing of entry requirements supported the increase in passenger traffic. Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP) retains cautious optimism for 2022 as the current positive trend is expected through Mid-May. Price escalation and the oil price volatility add additional pressure on top of the geopolitical challenges. During the pandemic, the impact of a virus variant has been immediate and reflected in traffic. However, the war in Ukraine could add additional challenges to a recovering volatile economy over a longer period.
Departing Traffic over Q1 continued to be led by The Netherlands with a 60% traffic share; USA 13%; Dutch Caribbean 13% and South America 9%. Monthly traffic figures for Q1 22 indicate an overall passenger traffic increase in January by +18% compared to December 2021. February traffic increased by +22% compared to January 2022 and March traffic increased by +3% over February 2022.
The average monthly Load Factors (occupied seats per flight) was 72% in January 2022; 72% in February 2022 and 81% in March 2022. The average load factor for Q1 2022 was 75%. Traffic recovery compared to the same months in 2019 was 73% for January; 80% for February and 92% for March 2022. The overall Q1 22 recovery compared to Q1 19 was 82%.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects overall traveler numbers to reach 4.0 billion in 2024 exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels (103% of the 2019 total). Not all markets or market sectors are recovering at the same pace. IATA further expects that 2019 passenger numbers are forecast to be surpassed in 2023 for Central America (102%), followed by South America in 2024 (103%) and the Caribbean in 2025 (101%). The latest IATA forecast does not calculate the impact of the war in Ukraine. Consumer confidence and economic activity are likely to be impacted even outside of Eastern Europe.
CAP is pleased with the positive Q1 22 results and anticipates the strong positive trend through Q2. CAP continues to pursue the further growth and diversification of its route network in partnership with the local tourism stakeholders. The destination will be adding approximately 33% in room inventory in the current year and requires additional seat capacity to meet the demand.