The number of passengers who flew to and from Schiphol Airport in March was 56 percent lower than in the same month last year, Statistics Netherlands reported on Wednesday. The number of flights decreased by 37 percent compared to March last year. The massive drop in passenger numbers has to do with measures and restrictions in place to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
In mid-March the Dutch government implemented travel restrictions for the Netherlands. The Netherlands is allowing no passenger flights from various countries including China, Hong Kong, Iran and South Korea. Similar and more stringent travel restrictions implemented worldwide also meant fewer flights departing from Schiphol. The government also implemented restrictions on the entry of travelers who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
Due to government measures implemented in mid-March, the number of passengers and flights were much lower between 16 and 31 March than in the first half of the month. From March 1 to 15, the number of passengers was 26 percent lower than the same period last year, and the number of flights decreased 5.4 percent. In the second half, there were 83 percent fewer travelers and 66 percent fewer flights.
The decrease in the number of passengers to and from Asia that started in February, continued in March, the stats office said. Flights between Amsterdam and airports in China dropped by over 89 percent, and flights to and from Hong Kong fell by almost 83 percent. There was also significant impact on flights to and from South Korea (-71 percent), Iran (-66 percent), the United States (-56 percent) and Canada (-51 percent).
The figures from Statistics Netherlands paints a dark picture for Schiphol in March, an image which is likely to be even more grim in April. During the last week of March, Schiphol saw 80 percent fewer travelers than a year earlier, a number which fell even further the following week.
“There were only around 5% of travelers and 10% of flight movements in recent days, when compared to the same period last year,” said Schiphol operations director Miriam Hoekstra-van der Deen in a statement issued on April 2. Since early April the airport has closed a runway to be used for parking aircraft, with four of seven holding areas also being used as parking spaces.
The airport has closed all gates on the C, G, H and M piers for the same reason, along with a portion of the B concourse.
“Our operations have shrunk, but we always remain open,” the Director of Airport Operations said.