Greek airports were the only ones in Europe together with those in Luxembourg to have fully recovered their pre-Covid 2019 passenger traffic volumes in June, according to the European airport trade body ACI Europe, which added that airports across the continent in the first half (H1) of 2022 handled an additional 660 million passengers compared to last year.
More specifically, according to the ACI Europe air traffic report for June, Q2 and H1, passenger traffic in the European airport network jumped by 247 percent in H1 compared to the same period last year driven mainly by international traffic which was up by 381.2 percent.
Domestic traffic was up by 88.5 percent concentrated mostly in the second quarter (+245.9 percent) of the year as a result of fewer Covid-related travel restrictions.
Meanwhile, airports in Greece recorded a 1.8 percent rise over June 2019.
Airports in Portugal (-2.9 percent), Lithuania (-7.5%) and Norway (-9.9%) came close to a full recovery. Santorini airport also exceeded pre-pandemic 2019 traffic levels in the same month by 72.5 percent as did the airports of Mykonos (+12.9 percent) and Corfu (+12.8 percent).
According to data by the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA), Greek airports recouped 90.6 percent of passenger traffic in the first six months of the year compared to H1 2019, handling 207,289 flights in total.
Meanwhile, EU airports recorded the largest increase in H1 passenger traffic up by 348.9 percent with passenger volumes increasing to 635 million from 140 million last year.
The highest increases in the EU were reported by airports in Ireland (+1,125 percent), the UK (+833 percent), Slovakia (+842.2 percent), Hungary (+784.8 percent), and Denmark (+611.8 percent).
The rest of Europe’s airports also saw moderate growth in passenger traffic in H1 up by 58.3 percent.
“These numbers speak for themselves. If Covid-19 caused an unprecedented collapse in passenger traffic for Europe’s airports, the rebound we have experienced this spring – especially in the EU+ market – is equally extraordinary,” said Olivier Jankovec, director general ACI Europe.
In June, passenger traffic at European airports picked up pace with the month closing down by 17.4 percent against pre-pandemic June 2019. The EU market – down by 16.6 percent – outperformed the rest of Europe which was down by 21.7 percent in June over 2019 levels for the same month.
According to ACI Europe data, recovery continues to be driven by leisure & VFR (visiting friends and relatives) demand.
In the same month, Europe’s top airports (-17 percent), including Istanbul, London-Heathrow, Paris-CDG, Amsterdam-Schiphol, were underperforming smaller and regional airports (-6.6 percent) compared to 2019 but still experienced exceptional volume increases compared to last year.
The report indicates that performance for large hub airports was divergent with Athens (-6.8 percent), Lisbon (-6.6 percent) and Palma de Mallorca (-3.6 percent) closest to fully recovering their 2019 traffic levels.
ACI Europe represents over 500 airports in 55 countries with members facilitating over 90 percent of commercial air traffic in Europe.