Frankfurt Airport (FRA) saw cargo volumes decline in 2022 as the continuing war in Ukraine, restrictions in China and global economic slowdown continue to weigh on its performance.
Europe's busiest cargo airport recorded a 13.3% year-on-year drop in cargo volumes (comprising airfreight and airmail) last year to 2 million metric tonnes. This is also 5.6% lower than the pre-Covid level seen in 2019.
"The main factors contributing to this decline included the airspace restrictions related to the war in Ukraine, the zero-Covid strategy pursued by China throughout almost the entire year, and the overall economic slowdown," FRA said in its report.
In 2022, FRA's aircraft movements increased by 45.9% year-on-year to 382,211 takeoffs and landings, although it is still down 25.6% compared to 2019.
In December alone, FRA saw cargo throughput fall by 19.0% to about 159,671 metric tons, still reflecting the overall economic slowdown and the impact of airspace restrictions related to the Ukraine war.
Meanwhile, as cargo numbers continue to drop, FRA saw a recovery in passenger volumes, with 48.9 million passengers in 2022 – nearly double the figure for 2021 and resulting in an increase of 97.2%.
At the start of last year, demand was still restrained over concerns about the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.
But FRA said from March 2022 until the end of the year; passenger traffic saw very dynamic growth. Compared with the 2019 pre-crisis level, FRA's passenger volume was still down by 30.7% in 2022.
"2022 was a very turbulent and challenging year for the entire aviation industry. Following the lockdowns at the start of the year, the sudden and sharp increase in demand put a heavy strain on all process partners ramping up operations. Due to the complexity of the system, air traffic operations had a shaky restart at many airports – including in Frankfurt," commented Dr Stefan Schulte, Fraport AG’s CEO.
"Looking ahead, we are confident of seeing further growth in 2023 ... Nevertheless, the situation remains challenging," Schulte added.