Air Traffic in the Capital Region


Managing Growth over Recent Years

Air traffic in Germany and Berlin in particular has wildly changed over the last 30 years. 34.7 million passengers flew to and from Berlin in 2018. What caused this kind of growth and how do airports deal with it?

Low cost airlines started gaining traction in Europe as well as in Germany at the start of the 2000s. In Berlin, the growth came with the incorporation of Germanwings (now Eurowings) in 2002 and easyJet in 2004. Norwegian, Vueling, and other airlines later added to this. By this point, all major low cost airlines are operating in the capital region.

Low Cost Airlines and the Region’s Appeal

The key to success for low cost airlines is based on their efficient use of resources and their low costs. The occupancy rate of low cost airline airplanes averages between 80 and 90 percent, and the costs are kept low by using new procedures and innovative concepts. These airlines also instigated unbundling, meaning that each product and service has to be paid for separately. At this point, many of these changes have been incorporated by full service airlines, who have adapted their product accordingly.

Stimulation of the market based on low ticket prices led to an outstanding growth in passenger numbers, with other factors being the region’s positive economic development and appeal as a destination for visitors from both Germany and abroad. Due to this high demand, many new connections within Europe have been added to Berlin in recent years. Compared to other German airports, the air traffic volume at Berlin airports Schönefeld and Tegel has increased at an above average rate.

If Predictions Change, Infrastructure Needs to be Adapted

In recent years, the infrastructure of the capital region’s airports has been adapted according to this growth. At the same time, higher occupancy rates and larger airplanes have allowed for the amount of flight movements to increase less than the number of passengers. The diagram below shows the corresponding growth over the last decade. The average occupancy rate increased from 70 percent in 2009 to almost 80 percent in 2018.

Looking Out to BER

Meanwhile, it’s understood that over 35 million flight guests are going to be able to arrive at and depart from BER in 2020. In order to be able to provide an adequate infrastructure for dealing with the predicted passenger volumes up to 2040, a set of strategic guidelines has been developed – the 2040 BER Master Plan. Projects such as the construction of Terminal 2 are based on these predictions and should guarantee the needs-based expansion of the infrastructure.

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