European airports broke all records in 2016 handling some 2 billion passengers up by 5.1 percent compared to a year before and an additional 300 million against 2013, according to the latest ACI Europe airport traffic report released recently.
Representing over 500 airports in 45 European countries, the Brussels-based trade association found that growth was generated by the EU market, with airports in the bloc seeing passenger volumes grow by 6.7 percent.
Airports in Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Romania and Spain benefited from the decline of traffic to Turkey while low cost carriers and friendlier deals drove growth at medium-sized airports including those of Athens, which grew by 10.6 percent, and Thessaloniki up by 12.1 percent.
Europe’s top five airports (handling more than 25 million passengers per year) showed slight signs of improvement up by 1.5 percent. Amsterdam-Schiphol was the only airport growing significantly by 9.2 percent, replacing Istanbul-Atatürk. The highest increases in passenger traffic for 2016 were recorded at Dublin (11.5 percent), Barcelona (11.2 percent), Amsterdam (9.2 percent), Copenhagen (9.1 percent) and Madrid (7.7 percent).
Meanwhile, of the ”smaller players’’ (airports handling less than 5 million passengers), Zakynthos airport grew by a massive 188.9 percent in December 2016 and Mykonos airport by 139.0 percent. The top five growers: Bucharest BBU (615.9 percent), Arad (500.0 percent), Maribor (+224.5 percent), Zakynthos (188.9 percent) and Mykonos (139.0 percent).
“This current growth dynamic is likely to hold up in the comings months, possibly until early spring. Short-term downside risks relate to the price of oil and airlines exerting capacity discipline. Beyond that, our trading environment is becoming more unpredictable and prone to disruptions, due to mounting geopolitical risks,” said Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe.