Curaçao International Airport – Traffic Vulnerability
Q1-2021 Passenger Traffic Overview
Willemstad, April 30, 2021 - Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP)’s 2021 passenger traffic outlook for the first quarter of 2021 was cautiously optimistic. The data was showing a slow and gradual increase in commercial passenger traffic due to the varying restrictions caused by the pandemic and the mutations of the virus which were detected in our main markets. By the end of the first quarter, we found ourselves back and in a much more difficult position than a year ago. The reality that the first semester of 2021 would be challenging pales in comparison to the compromising position we find ourselves in. The British variant of the virus viciously entered and devastated the island.
International Departing Traffic during Q1 of 2021 was driven by Europe and the USA with 57% from Europe and 12% from the USA. Passenger traffic in January unfortunately decreased by -42% over December 2020. February traffic increased by +2% compared to January and in March traffic decreased by -28% over February. Due to the increase in measures and requirements, airlines in both Europe and the USA adjusted their flight schedules and aircraft capacity in line with the fluctuations in demand.
Notwithstanding the unprecedented challenges of 2020, CAP was pleased to learn that for a third consecutive year, Curaçao was placed within the top ten (10) international destinations based on passenger movements on the Amsterdam-Curaçao route. Dubai and Atlanta occupied the number one (1) and number two (2) positions, respectively.
Interisland connectivity within the Dutch Caribbean remained very volatile due to the resurgence of the virus and mutations thereof. In the first quarter of 2021, the Dutch Caribbean accounted for 25% of passenger traffic. Passenger traffic in January unfortunately decreased by -32% compared to December 2020. February traffic increased by +43% compared to January and in March traffic decreased by -8% over February.
South America has shown a weak and slower recovery than forecasted. Air service restart by our main airline partners has either been rescheduled or postponed. With most South American countries closed for international passenger traffic, airlines lack the feed from important countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru.
The overall average load factors per month from January through March were 55%, 55% and 69% respectively. Traffic recovery compared to 2019 was 19% in January; 22% in February and 29% in March.
According to Airports Council International (ACI), international passenger traffic is expected to remain weak in the first half of 2021, but early signs are pointing to a significant surge in air travel demand for the second half of 2021, as an increasing number of people get vaccinated and international travel restrictions are gradually eased. Domestic travel in the USA and Europe is rebounding faster than international travel as the largest vaccinated segments of the population are travelling to visit friends and family. In addition, the requirements for entry vary per international destination influencing travel decisions.
“Traffic remains extremely volatile, and the financial impact is severe. We however see a recovery in the second semester, not only because of the vaccination efforts all over the world, but mainly because of the vaccination program executed in Curaçao, which will quickly bring protection to our population and transform the island into a safe destination. Health safety will influence travel decisions and we are very hopeful that the tourism industry will prosper towards the end of the year”, said Mr. Paulo Mazzali, CAP co-CEO.