Travellers from abroad are driving growth at Scandinavia’s biggest hub, far more than Danes themselves.
Copenhagen Airport reached a milestone in 2018 with 30.3 million passengers, reversing fears of a decline this time last year. But less than half of these are Danish and from the south of Sweden – foreign nationals visiting Denmark and transfer passengers flying via CPH are more numerous.
Never before in the history of Copenhagen Airport have so many passengers been through its terminals – specifically 30,298,531 of them.
CPH cements its position as the Nordic region’s largest airport, ahead of Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki. Oslo and Stockholm are working their way towards the 30 million mark, while Helsinki in 2018 for the first time passed 20 million passengers.
“Growth in 2018 has been substantial, with 1.1 million more travellers. This equals 16 full Boeing 737s every day of the year,” says chief executive Thomas Woldbye.
But even though Danes continue to show a growing desire for travel, the majority of passengers are visitors to Denmark and transfer passengers. Of the total passengers CPH saw in 2018, just 38% were Danes and 62% were foreign.
“It is imperative for the welfare of a small nation like Denmark to be well connected to the rest of the world to allow us to do business, exchange knowledge, and welcome investments and tourists to the country,” Woldbye said.
“The development over the past ten years shows us that the world has discovered Denmark and that foreign travellers are numerous in the terminals – and therefore also in Denmark.”
Since 2011, Woldbye says that the airport has put a strategic focus on developing the inbound passenger market. The number of foreign incoming passengers has grown by 51% since that year, while the number of Danish and southern Swedish outbound passengers has risen by 31%.
There are currently 177 direct international routes to and from Copenhagen, 41 of which are long-haul routes to destinations outside Europe.
The greatest increases were realised on long-haul international routes to destinations outside Europe. For these, the passenger numbers grew by 11% to a total of 3,611,444.
Woldbye stresses that “2018 was really significant in respect of China, with new routes to Hong Kong, Beijing and Chengdu. There has been a strong wish, both politically and commercially, to create Chinese connectivity with more direct routes. After strong collaboration on developing new routes, this is now a reality.”
Traffic to and from the USA also showed strong growth, now with ten direct routes. As a consequence, the number of visiting American travellers increased by just under 10%, to 1.1 million.
It was also a year when a long-desired route between Copenhagen and New Delhi in India celebrated its first anniversary, with the number of people using the route growing by nearly 60,000.
However, domestic traffic fell by 1.5% in 2018, to a total of 1,586,728. One of the reasons for this is that airlines have cut the number of domestic flights on some routes. Charter flights also showed a small drop of 0.5%.
As for individual busy days, the busiest travel day of the year was June 25 with 109,399 passengers, while the least busy day was December 25, with 25,779 passengers going through the terminals.