In 2020, nearly 183 thousand air passengers traveled to and from the airports of the Caribbean Netherlands. This is 60 percent less than in 2019 when there were more than 457 thousand. The total number of flights (12.6 thousand) was down by over 50 percent year-on-year. Almost 88 percent of the air passengers to and from the Caribbean Netherlands traveled via the airport of Bonaire. This is evident from new figures released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).
Passenger traffic to and from Bonaire was 58.3 percent down on 2019. On St Eustatius and Saba, the number of air passengers declined by 68.7 and 70.5 percent respectively.
Sharp drop in air traffic following COVID-19 measures
During the first two months of 2020, the airports of Bonaire, St Eustatius, and Saba saw a total of 4.3 thousand aircraft movements, i.e. a year-on-year increase of 3.9 percent. This was mainly due to a higher number of flights to and from Bonaire, from 2.5 to 2.7 thousand. The measures implemented in March 2020 to combat the coronavirus crisis were clearly visible in the subsequent months. Total air traffic in 2020 stood at 49.2 percent of the number in 2019.
Of the three overseas Dutch airports, Flamingo Airport on Bonaire has the highest number of aircraft movements and passengers. Last year, the number of flights at this airport fell by 50.5 percent: from 15.7 to 7.8 thousand. F.D. Roosevelt Airport on St Eustatius and Juancho E. Yrausquin on Saba recorded a year-on-year decline of 53.5 and 47.4 percent respectively.
Most passengers flying to and from Bonaire
On 14 March 2020, Bonaire, St Eustatius, and Saba closed their airspace for inbound passenger traffic from Europe and from other high-risk countries. In April and May, when there were only a limited number of repatriation flights, barely one thousand passengers traveled to and from these three islands. In the same period one year previously, this was 76.3 thousand, representing a 98.7-percent decrease. As of 1 July, a limited number of tourists were admitted to Bonaire, which led to a higher number of air passengers in July and August. Nevertheless, passenger numbers on this island were 58.0 and 51.3 percent lower respectively relative to the months of July and August 2019.
In 2020, a total of 160.5 thousand air passengers passed through the terminals of Flamingo Airport on Bonaire, accounting for 87.8 percent of all air passenger traffic to and from the Caribbean Netherlands that year. The airports of St Eustatius and Saba handled 13.2 and 9.0 thousand passengers respectively.