In 2022, Brussels Airport welcomed almost 19 million passengers, an increase of 102% compared to 2021, and 72% of the pre-crisis level. The first half of the year was still strongly influenced by the travel restrictions due to Covid, while a very strong recovery started from the summer, with several months where the level exceeded 80% of the level of 2019. In 2022, the cargo department experienced , after a record year in 2021 (+30%), an 8% decrease in volumes to reach 776.000 tonnes.
Passenger traffic: an increase of 102% compared to 2021
In 2022, 18.930.698 passengers traveled through Brussels Airport. This is an increase of 102% compared to 2021 (9,4 million passengers), and almost 72% from the level of 2019 (26,4 million passengers). After a first half of the year still heavily impacted by Covid travel restrictions, there was a strong recovery in holiday traffic and travel to visit family and friends during the summer months, with passenger numbers exceeding 80% from July to October . From the autumn there was also a clear recovery in business travel, in addition to the growth in the number of transfer passengers at Brussels Airport, which shows a very clear recovery in hub activity, linked to Brussels Airlines and its Star Alliance partners.
Passenger numbers were also negatively impacted by three national events in 2022 (in June, November and December). On an annual basis, it is estimated that this led to almost 100.000 fewer passengers. The number of departing transfer passengers amounts to 15%, compared to 18% in 2019, with a remarkable recovery especially in the second half of the year. The ten most visited countries in 2022 were Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Portugal, the United States, France, Greece, the United Kingdom and Morocco. Turkey, Greece and Morocco even surpassed their record levels of 2019.
In December, Brussels Airport welcomed 1,457 million passengers, representing 77% of the number of passengers in 2019. After four months with a result higher than 80% compared to 2019, the months of November and December had fewer holidaymakers as usual. Just like the national event on November 9, the action day on December 16 also had a negative effect of approximately 30.000 fewer travelers. The start of the Christmas holiday also means that there were more departing than arriving passengers during this month.
Cargo: decrease of 8% compared to 2021, after the strong increase in 2021 (+30%)
In 2022, the total cargo volume amounted to 775.721 tons, or a decrease of 8% compared to 2021. Air cargo traffic at Brussels Airport fell by 7% compared to 2021. This decrease can be explained by the fact that 2021 was a real record year (+30%) for the cargo zone of Brussels Airport. In the full-cargo segment, they also recorded a decrease of 13% compared to 2021. Cargo on board passenger flights has increased by 27% due to the continuous increase in the number of passenger flights. Finally, the express services segment recorded a decrease of 13% compared to 2021.
Overall, freight volumes were under pressure throughout the year due to ongoing political tensions, lockdowns in China, the looming recession and its impact on e-commerce. In December, cargo traffic at Brussels Airport fell by 7% compared to December 2021. They also recorded a decline in the full cargo (-9%), express services (-12%) and trucked cargo (-9%) segments. Due to the gradual increase in the number of passenger flights, cargo volumes on board these aircraft have increased by 9% compared to December 2021.
The total number of flights increased by 2022% in 51 compared to 2021, to 178.930 flight movements. However, this number remains 24% lower compared to 2019, before the crisis. The number of passenger flights has increased by 73% compared to 2021, when many restrictions were still in place. Compared to 2019, the number of passenger flights is 69%. The number of passengers per flight is 135, or an increase of almost 4% compared to 2019. A record for Brussels Airport that demonstrates the use of larger, more modern and quieter aircraft, with a higher occupancy rate.
The number of cargo flights has decreased by 10% compared to 2021. In December, there were 13.642 flight movements at Brussels Airport, an increase of 8% compared to December 2021. The number of passenger flights was 72% of the number in 2019. The number of passengers per flight was 137, or 6% more than in December 2019. The number of cargo flights has decreased by 15% compared to 2021, according to the Belgian airport.