German air passengers

Turkey and North America win as Canaries plummet

Passenger numbers at Munich Airport increased by nearly 5% in the first half of 2019.
Flughafen München/Bernd Ducke
Passenger numbers at Munich Airport increased by nearly 5% in the first half of 2019.

Germans flew abroad more than ever in the first half of 2019, with Turkey, the USA and Canada among the destination winners but the Canary Islands, Cyprus, the UAE and the Dominican Republic all welcomed fewer tourists from Germany, new figures show.

The total number of airline passengers flying from the country’s 24 leading airports increased by 4.1% to a new record of 58.9 million between January and June, figures from the Federal Statistical Office showed. The strongest growth was for European destinations, with a 4.8% rise to 37.2 million passengers, while 10.1 million passengers (+3.5%) headed for overseas destinations. Domestic passenger numbers increased by 2.3% to 11.6 million despite public criticism of the environmental impact of flights within Germany.

Turkey was a clear winner among major southern European holiday destinations with a 10.9% rise to about 3.3 million arrivals from Germany in the first half-year. This included a 17% surge to 1.16 million passengers departing for Antalya, the statistics office figures showed.

Spain remained the biggest destination country with a 3% overall rise to 6.8 million arrivals from Germany. But there were contrasting fortunes for the two biggest holiday regions. The number of German holidaymakers flying to the Canary Islands dropped by 8.2% to just over 1.4 million. But the Balearics welcomed 2.3 million arrivals from Germany, an 8.5% increase on the same period last year.

Greece did well generally with a 3.7% rise to nearly 1.7 million passengers from Germany but the Greek Islands only generated a slight 0.6% increase to 796,000 arrivals by air. Elsewhere, Portugal saw low growth with a 1.3% rise to over 1.2 million passengers from Germany but Cyprus saw a 10.4% slump to just 88,000 arrivals. 

In North Africa, Egypt consolidated last year’s strong recovery with a slight increase to 894,000 arrivals from Germany, while Morocco (+11.1%) and Tunisia (10.9%) both performed well with double-digit growth.

There were also ups and downs for big intercontinental leisure travel destinations between January and June. The USA welcomed 2.5 million airline passengers (business and leisure) from Germany, 6% more than in the same period last year. Canada also did well with a 5.7% rise to 525,000 passengers.

In the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic suffered a 17% slump to just 138,000 arrivals from Germany but visitor numbers to Mexico were up by 17% to 187,000. In Asia, the UAE suffered a 7% drop to 840,000 arrivals from Germany while Thailand stagnated at 248,000.

The official figures from the statistics office confirmed similar earlier numbers released by the German Airports Association (ADV), which showed a 4.2% rise in passenger numbers at the country’s 22 international airports in the first half of 2019. This included a 4.9% increase on European routes and a 3.7% rise on intercontinental routes. Germany’s biggest airports all generated solid or strong growth in the first half of 2019, including Frankfurt (+3%), Munich (+4.7%), Düsseldorf (+10.4%) and Berlin-Tegel (+25%).

However, the outlook for the rest of 2019 is less promising in view of the weakening German economy, the ADV warned. In July, according to its latest figures, German airports only saw a 1% rise in passenger numbers, largely due to capacity reductions on leisure routes following over-capacity and price wars last summer.

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