Luxembourgh Times

Air travel up in 2021, still way below pre-pandemic levels

Two million passengers travelled from Luxembourg last year

Planes taxied outside Luxembourg's airport

Planes taxied outside Luxembourg's airport © Photo credit: claude piscitelli

Kathryn Oglesby

Luxembourg’s airport saw a significant increase in travellers in 2021 compared to the previous year but still way fewer than before the pandemic, as Covid-19 continues to hamper global travel.

Two million passengers travelled from Luxembourg last year, the airport said on Friday. This was a 40% increase from 2020, but still represents just over half the number of passengers that took flights out of the Grand Duchy in 2019, before the coronavirus arrived in the country.

“In 2021, demand for flights from Luxembourg was strongly influenced by pandemic measures and dominated by private travel,” the statement from the airport said. “This led to high peak demand on individual traffic days compared to very low passenger volumes on days with little demand and outside holiday periods.”

Planes also transported 1.1 million tons of cargo out of the airport last year, a 20% year-on-year increase.

A recovery to the level of travel seen in 2019 is expected for 2024 at the earliest, the airport added.

In another sign that the coronavirus is hampering travel, Luxembourg's struggling national airline is losing money on flights.

With few passengers to meet EU rules, planes are burning up fuel just to avoid losing valuable landing rights at Europe's most crowded airports.

“Airlines find themselves forced to fly empty or almost-empty in order not to infringe the European regulation,” a Luxair spokesperson said. Airlines must complete at least half of scheduled landings at crowded airports or lose the landing rights, according to the Brussels-mandated rules.