The current winter period 2020/21 is particularly difficult for Salzburg Airport, because the second largest airport normally generates the majority of the annual turnover in the cold season. Winter sports enthusiasts from abroad are the absolute exception this year, because mutual entry and quarantine regulations as well as closed hotels and pensions have a massive negative effect on demand.
Salzburg boss Bettina Ganghofer describes the situation to the Salzburger Nachrichten as follows: In 2019 the airport was able to handle 1,7 million passengers despite a five-week runway closure. 75 percent of this was in the first quarter. For 2020, the manager expects at most 700.000 travelers, only because January and February 2020 in Austria were largely spared the corona pandemic. "A decrease of around 80 percent in passengers and planes can no longer be glossed over, it's terrible," said Ganghofer in relation to the Salzburger Nachrichten. “Even with a 'small' winter season in February and March, this absolute peak season will lag behind the usual developments so far that the 2021 financial year can only be described as bitter. We will definitely have to get money on the capital market ”.
It is currently not foreseeable that an at least short ski season with international guests could start in winter 2021. In the unlikely event that the entry and quarantine regulations should relax on both sides, it can be assumed that potential passengers have already “checked off” their winter sports vacation. So there is only one hope that the guests will come back next season.
The situation is fatal for Salzburg Airport, because the lion's share of sales is made in the months of January, February and March. Ganghofer assumes that a single-digit million sum will be needed in the course of 2021 in order to maintain the infrastructure and to be able to pay the employees' wages. Normalization is expected in Salzburg at the earliest in “2023 or 2024”, but they do not want to announce layoffs. Short-time work is a very helpful tool for Austria's second largest airport and you will continue to use it, but it does not cover everything.
Bettina Ganghofer told Salzburger Nachrichten that she hopes that the recovery will occur earlier and that as much sales as possible can be made in all segments in summer 2021. A decision on larger investments will not be made until the middle of the year, but these are not considered to be postponable any further. Deputy Governor Christian Stöckl, who is chairman of the supervisory board of Salzburg Airport, strongly criticized the federal government's aviation policy in relation to the Salzburger Nachrichten. Since the hub connection to Vienna has been lost, they are now working hard to get a connection to the Swiss hub in Zurich.