WILLEMSTAD - Curaçao International Airport’s third quarter results are the highest since re-opening the borders for commercial passenger traffic in July 2020. Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP) anticipated a stronger second half of 2021 and remains cautiously optimistic as the pandemic and inconsistent travel and entry requirements in key markets remain challenging.
Departing Traffic during Q3 2021 continued to be driven by The Netherlands with a 62% traffic share; USA 13%; Dutch Caribbean 17% and South America 5%. Monthly traffic figures for Q3 21 indicate overall passenger traffic increased in July by +47% compared to June 2021. August traffic increased by +17% compared to July 2021 and September traffic decreased by -22% over August 2021.
The average monthly Load Factors (occupied seats per flight) was 76% in July 2021; 81% in August 2021 and 76% in September 2021. The average load factor for Q3 2021 was 78%.
Traffic recovery compared to the same months in 2019 was 74% for July; 87% for August and 75% for September 2021. With 108,566 passenger movements, an average Load Factor of 76% and a recovery of 87% compared to August 2019, August 2021 is the best performing month thus far since commercial passenger traffic restarted in July 2020.
In comparing Q3 21 to Q2 21, overall passenger traffic grew from 114,939 to 285,676 passenger movements, an increase of +148%. The significant increase was due to the rapid containment of the British virus variant outbreak at the beginning of Q2 and the successful island-wide vaccination campaign. In addition, the summer holidays created a strong demand from the Netherlands, the USA and the Dutch Caribbean.
Year-to-date September 2021 recovery compared to 2019 is 46% of passenger traffic, 67% of inbound flights and 51% of seat capacity.
According to Airports Council International (ACI), they anticipate that by year end 2021, based on the current scenario, overall traffic recovery will be between 45% and 55% compared to 2019. Distribution of effective vaccines to major markets, gradual removal of international restrictions, strong rebound of passenger confidence and a rapid airline fleet recovery could indicate a full recovery of global traffic recovery by year-end 2023. A more pessimistic outlook could push the recovery back to 2024.
UNWTO, United Nations World Tourism Organization, estimates tourism to reach pre-covid levels in 2024 rather than 2023. Vaccination programs around the world, together with softer restrictions for vaccinated travelers and the use of digital tools such as the EU Digital COVID Certificate, are all contributing to the gradual normalization of travel.
Q3 results are a cautiously optimistic indication that demand, and sustainability are important in rebuilding the route network and passenger movement. Curaçao Airport Partners (CAP) foresees recovery to show signs of growth and remain volatile until traffic stabilizes and that depends on the continued impact of the pandemic, aircraft and crew availability, travel requirements. In addition, with more destinations lifting or easing travel restrictions, competition for leisure travel will intensify. CAP continues to work closely with our tourism partners, CTB, CHATA and CASHA, supporting efforts to further stimulate demand and growth of visitors to Curaçao.