Frankfurt/Main (ots) - About 3.9 million passengers traveled via Frankfurt Airport (FRA) in May 2003, a 5.3 percent decline compared to the same month last year. Airfreight traffic at FRA grew by 2.9 percent to 124,611 million metric tons. With 38,177 take-offs and landings, the number of aircraft movements decreased by 2.6 percent compared to May 2002. This paralleled the development in maximum take-off weights (MTOWs), which dropped two percent to 2.1 million metric tons.

Fraport AG was unable to register a reverse trend in passenger figures at Frankfurt Airport in May 2003. Following the 5.2 percent decline in April 2003, the airport operator recorded similar development in May compared to the corresponding month in 2002. The results of the Iraq war no longer had a decisive impact on consumer plans for air travel. Traffic to and from the Middle East increased once again by almost one fifth. But tourist destinations in southeastern Europe (e.g., Cyprus, Greece and Turkey) suffered from the lack of travel bookings, which occurred before and during the Iraq war. However, a slight recovery in demand has been observed since the end of the reporting month.

This development has been confirmed by various tour operators who, on the basis of incoming bookings, are seeing a visible stimulation of their holiday travel business. Therefore, Fraport AG is carefully optimistic that Frankfurt Airport will soon be able to report growth in monthly passenger figures again. May's recovery in demand was eclipsed by the SARS infectious disease - traffic to the Far East was particularly affected by a drop of one fifth - as well as various strikes days by airport workers in France, and by Germany's continuing weak economy. From January to May 2003, over 18.2 million passengers used Germany's biggest airport, a two percent drop compared to the same period of 2002.

FRA achieved growth in airfreight tonnage. Despite the SARS-related crisis in the Far East, cargo volumes to this region increased by almost six percent. Similarly, Fraport AG recorded clear growth of almost one third on FRA's routes to the Middle East. Routes on the North Atlantic experienced a slight decrease in export cargo due to the influence of the strong euro. Clearly less airfreight was transported on routes within Germany and to Eastern Europe. In total, 624,000 metric tons of airfreight were shipped via FRA during the first five months of 2003, about five percent more than in the same period last year. In addition, Fraport AG reported 9,715 metric tons of airmail at FRA, a 11 percent decline compared to May 2002. This decline resulted from a reduction in services in the overnight domestic mail network (i.e., hub-and-spoke network for domestic first-class mail delivery) based at FRA.

Aircraft movements and MTOWs both declined in May 2003. In particular, aircraft movements declined because capacity offers were adjusted to the reduced passenger demand following the SARS outbreak. Also, strike-related flight cancellations to France impacted traffic in May 2003. Because the booking situation is slowly recovering, Fraport AG hopes that airlines will soon revive routes that were dropped or increase capacity on those routes that were served less frequently.

Frankfurt Airport's Traffic Figures for May 2003

May 2003Change (2) May 03/02Jan. - May 2003Change (2) Jan. - May 03/02
Passengers3,937,770-5.3 %18,216,531-2.0 %
Airfreight in metric tons124,6112.9 %623,6254.9 %
Airmail in metric tons9,715-11.1 %53,345-7.7 %
Aircraft Movements (1)38,177-2.6 %187,5572.3 %
MTOWs 1 in metric tons2,078,086-2.0 %10,286,9904.7 %
Punctuality share of punctual arrivals and departures in percent83.477.2

(1) Excluding military flights

(2) Change over previous year