Greece appears to be the only country in Europe on the road to full post-Covid-19 recovery of its total and direct air connectivity, according to the Airport Industry Connectivity Report for 2022 released recently by ACI Europe, the trade association of Europe’s airports.
Based on ACI findings released ahead of its 32nd Annual Congress and General Assembly, air connectivity recovery in Europe is incomplete and uneven with Greece leading the way dynamically followed by Turkey (-3 percent), Spain (-23 percent), the UK (-28 percent), Italy (-32 percent), France (-34 percent) and Germany (-39 percent).
Meanwhile, Athens is also very close to recovering its direct connectivity levels compared to 2019 just down by 6 percent.
Ahead in terms of direct connectivity is Amsterdam Schiphol (-10 percent), Istanbul (-5 percent), and London Heathrow (-13 percent), as well as Lisbon (-4 percent), Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen (-6 percent), London Gatwick (-8 percent) and Dublin (-7 percent).
ACI analysts note that European air connectivity recovery is “uneven” and still difficult affected by travel restrictions, the Russia-Ukraine war, and structural changes in the aviation market. Indicative of these changes is the fact that low cost carriers (LCCs) are now accounting for 40 percent of all direct air connectivity in the European market, up from 27 percent before the pandemic in 2019, while full service and other carriers’ share has dropped from 73 percent to 60 percent.
The poorest performers are Ukraine, which has lost all its air connectivity, Russia (-62 percent), and Belarus (-78 percent).
“More than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, and despite an upsurge in passenger volumes this summer, total air connectivity across the European airport network still remains -29 percent below pre-pandemic (2019) levels. This means as of June 2022, air connectivity in Europe is back to where it was in 2009 – when the Great Recession hit,” ACI said.
“Covid-19 accelerated the changes in the market landscape for airports, where competitive pressures are increasing across the board as we see footloose carriers, which today includes both the ultra-low cost carriers and also the low-cost brands of network carriers, intensively bargain with airports,” said Olivier Jankovec, director general ACI Europe.
“This report points to the importance of ensuring that slot allocation rules reflect the connectivity needs of airport communities, while ensuring fair and open market opportunities,” Jankovec added.