EIt takes a few minutes to notice what is different. Because the outside backdrop is as usual on the apron at Frankfurt Airport: planes parked, vehicles scurrying across the lanes. But gradually it is noticeable that everything stands still except for these small movements. The planes on the tarmac are not prepared for the connecting flight, but dozens remain on the ground.
Sheep clouds in the sky, clear view. The only flight movements for hours are some cargo planes and even fewer passenger jets. Two birds of prey can be seen on the withered grass between the runways. One performs a Kamikaze feat three times in a row. Courtship behavior? You can hear the highway rustling, where the planes usually take off at up to 140 decibels.
There are hardly any people to be seen
According to information from Wednesday, Fraport counted 1435 take-offs and landings last week until Easter Sunday, around 200 a day. At peak times this value was reached in just over two hours. Passenger numbers have plummeted – since the large return campaign for Germans from abroad has largely been completed, it has come closer to the zero line. Exactly 46,338 passengers boarded and exited Frankfurt last week, which was 96.8 percent less than the same calendar week of the previous year. At peak times, when travelers jammed in front of security controls, it was 240,000 a day.
Now there are hardly any people in Terminal One. An elderly woman with a face mask is pushing a tower of luggage in front of her with a cart. Others also wear face masks in different models. The word “canceled” can often be read on the display boards, and only a few service staff are behind Lufthansa counters. All traffic has been concentrated in building sections B and C of the first terminal. Terminal 2 has been completely closed since the beginning of last week.
The few remaining flights of the companies based there have been moved to the larger Terminal 1. If you want to get on a plane from there, you still have to feel like an exotic. Trade restrictions also apply at the airport. Most of the shops are closed, and travelers can only get good food and magazines.
The traffic figures for the first quarter presented on Wednesday show how the corona crisis broke out at Frankfurt Airport. For the first three months of the year together there was a drop in passenger numbers of almost 25 percent, for the month of March alone it was minus 62 percent, now it is almost minus 97 percent.
In Munich, Germany’s second largest airport, the decline is even greater. The number of passengers there was only one percent of the previous year’s figure in the first week of April. Lufthansa has concentrated the few daily intercontinental flights on Frankfurt.
“With the growing insecurity of the population and increasing travel restrictions due to entry bans, there was a sea of cancellations,” explains Fraport of the March figures. “At the end of the month, the extreme slump in demand could only be slightly alleviated by special flights as part of return campaigns.” In March, more than 200,000 passengers returning home arrived in Frankfurt more than they departed from there.