03.02.2021 10:03
Tarmac view of terminal.

Photo: wolfganghummer.com

Graz Airport: Coronavirus stops us flying high

The pandemic is leading to a slump in all segments. A slight recovery is expected for 2021, not least due to the planned summer programme.

Feldkirchen bei Graz, 05.01. 27 January 2021: The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a significant decline in passenger numbers at Graz Airport. A slump of 81% was recorded with just under 200,000 passengers.
The decline in cargo was moderate at 14.5%.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a lasting negative impact on the entire airline and travel industry and therefore, of course, also on Graz Airport. After 2019, the best year in our history, it was poised for continued growth. Due to the start of flight cancellations in the first half of March and the subsequent lockdown, which led to about three months without regular scheduled and charter traffic at Graz Airport, expectations had to be revised to much lower.

Councillor Dr Günter Riegler: "With the takeover of the airport shares by the federal government and the province of Styria in 2004, the airport developed into an economic success story for the city of Graz. With sometimes more than 1 million passengers per year in the charter and scheduled sectors, Graz has developed into a hub for passengers from all over southern Austria to Slovenia and Croatia. The economic importance of the airport for the city of Graz is also reflected in the more than 85 million euros that have flowed into the city's budget since 2004."

DI Wolfgang Malik, CEO of Holding Graz: "Since we took over the company in 2004, we and the management have turned Graz Airport into a showcase company in the Graz holding and developed it into an important hub for the export-oriented Styrian economy. The global repercussions of the coronavirus crisis have had a massive impact on airports all over the world and have therefore also abruptly curtailed the Styrian gateway to the world from soaring to greater heights. Charter flights, scheduled passenger services and the general aviation sector have ensured passenger records in Graz for years, and in 2019 we recorded the best result ever in the airport's history.
The last time the airport achieved the 2020 passenger numbers due to the coronavirus was almost 35 years ago. Through an advertisement the holding has found a good mix of expertise in Graz and new international airline experience for the recovery process: with the appointment of Wolfgang Grimus, an internationally well-connected manager and with Jürgen Löschnig, an accomplished financial manager at Holding Graz with 9 years of experience as managing director of Graz Airport. It is particular important in these difficult times to get the airport climbing again soon with a clear strategy for the future."

Jürgen Löschnig, Managing Director Graz Airport: "A comprehensive response was initiated immediately at Graz Airport, under the leadership of Gerhard Widmann in close coordination with the owner Holding Graz and the city of Graz: all employees have been put on reduced working hours, and the airport's opening hours have been adjusted to the current situation to save on personnel costs here as well. Investments and other expenditure have been reduced to what is absolutely necessary, thereby safeguarding jobs and cushioning the impact on the airport relatively well overall. However, as an ÖAMTC and BMI (flight operations centre) base, Graz Airport was never closed, which meant that private and business flights could continue to be offered and other partner companies also continued their operations on site."

Work was already underway during the lockdown to resume air traffic as quickly as possible. Austrian Airlines resumed scheduled flights to Vienna on 22 June. With Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart, other important connections to European hubs and business destinations followed, which were maintained as long as possible. Holiday flights, e.g. to Santorini, Brac or Rhodes, were also resumed and well received.
Although the recent lockdowns and the resulting travel restrictions have again led to a reduction in the number of flights on offer, passengers can still take advantage of a wide range of travel options from Graz with scheduled flights via the two major hubs Vienna and Amsterdam.

The details:
In 2020, Graz Airport served 199,490 passengers (-80.8% compared to 2019). The number of scheduled flight passengers fell by 79.4% to 184,666.
The charter sector recorded a decline of 89.6% with 14,824 passengers.

Cargo development:
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cargo sector has been small in comparison. The total cargo volume of 16,220 tonnes corresponds to a minus of 14.5%.

Cautiously optimistic outlook for summer 2021:

Wolfgang Grimus, Managing Director Graz Airport: "Comprehensive vaccination and testing strategies by numerous governments and confident plans by airlines and tour operators lead us to expect a gradual improvement in the situation and therefore higher travel volumes, especially from the second half of 2021. In close coordination with our airline partners, we assume that at least a large part of the previously offered scheduled connections, which are important for the regional economy and tourism, such as Vienna, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Zurich and Amsterdam, will be served."

As things stand, various tour operators are planning a varied summer flight programme for 2021.

Around 15 series of charter flights are planned from Graz to attractive seaside destinations. The flight destinations also include three new destinations: the Greek islands of Naxos, Karpathos and Zakynthos. Popular holiday destinations such as Brac, Mallorca, Rhodes or Antalya are also available again. Interesting individual flights are also being offered, e.g. to Paphos, Funchal and Naples.

The figures in comparison:

Volume20202019Change in %
Total volume – passengers199,490     1,036,929      -80.8 %
Scheduled services – passengers184,666895,093-79.4 %
Charter flights – passengers14,824141,836-89.6 %
Total volume – movements   4,00214,727-72.8 %
Total cargo (in tonnes)16,22018,970-14.5 %
General aviation (incl. military) – movements 28,991      32,241       -10.1 %