Berlin airport expects more passengers in 2024 but recovery ‘delayed’ – CEO

BERLIN (Reuters) – The operator of Berlin Airport expects passenger numbers to increase by 8% next year as it continues its post-pandemic recovery, the chief executive says.

The airport in the German capital launched in Oct. 31, 2020, after a years-long delay and at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when collapsing demand was wreaking havoc with the global aviation industry.

Its recovery, based on passenger levels at the old Tegel and Schoenefeld airports that it replaced, is underway “but still delayed”, said Aletta von Massenbach, CEO of the FBB operator.

“We assume that the 2019 level can be reached again from the end of the decade,” von Massenbach told Reuters in an interview.

The aim is to have around 24.8 million passengers at BER in 2024, von Massenbach said. By comparison, Tegel and Schoenefeld airports handled a combined total of 35.65 million people in 2019.

In 2023, Berlin Airport, or BER, met its target with around 23 million passengers travelling through its gates, some 3 million more than the year prior.

“We are satisfied with how BER has developed and what we have created,” von Massenbach said.

However, she said that while air traffic had returned to or exceeded pre-pandemic levels across much of the globe, it was still lagging in Germany.

“High state taxes and fees play a major role here. This is why the airlines are reducing their services,” von Massenbach added.

Budget airline heavyweights Ryanair and Easyjet have both pared back their activities in Germany in recent years, blaming comparatively high airport fees.

(Reporting by Klaus Lauer, Writing by Rachel More, Editing by Angus MacSwan)