Europe Airports See Traffic Rise in January on Track to Recovery
Passenger traffic across the European airport network increased by 69 percent in January compared to the same month last year driven by international passenger traffic which was up by 85 percent, said ACI Europe (Airports Council International Europe) recently.
However, January passenger traffic was still down by 11 percent over pre-pandemic 2019 levels but improved over December 2022. This is the best monthly performance and closest to a full recovery since the start of the pandemic, said ACI.
Airports in Europe led the way in January, with passenger traffic growing by 82 percent compared to the same month last year. Airports in the UK (128 percent), Ireland (115 percent) and Cyprus (111 percent) recorded the highest increases.
According to ACI data, 11 markets achieved or exceeded a full recovery in January with the best performances reported at airports in Portugal (+12.8 percent), Cyprus (+11.2 percent) and Luxembourg (+9 percent), followed by those in Croatia (+5.4 percent), Malta (+3.6 percent) and Romania (+3.2 percent).
“Forty-two percent of Europe’s airports have now recovered their pre-pandemic traffic volumes and while there are significant performance variations across markets, we expect more to hit the same milestone in the coming months,” said Olivier Jankovec, director general ACI Europe.
Jankovec went on to add that continued capacity expansion by ultra-Low Cost Carriers and the recent lifting of pre-departure testing requirements for travelers from China is expected to keep driving the recovery forward.
Attention, he said, should now be given to readiness for the peak summer season and identifying possible risks and stress points key of which staffing levels at airports.
On the downside in January, airports remaining farthest from full recovery were those of Slovakia (-45.2 percent), Slovenia (-44.1 percent), the Czech Republic (-33.3 percent), and Germany (-31.7 percent).
Meanwhile, passenger traffic at Europe’s Top 5 airports increased by 73.5 percent in January compared to the same month last year but was still down by 10.6 percent on January 2019 levels.
Istanbul was the busiest European airport in January handling 5.64 million passengers and marking a 62.6 percent rise over the same month last year thus exceeding pre-pandemic volumes by 8.1 percent.
London-Heathrow followed in second place with 5.49 million passengers, a 111.2 percent increase, and Paris-CDG third with 4.72 million passengers a 73.2 percent rise but down by 7.4 percent and 12.1 percent respectively on January 2019 levels.
In its group, Athens International Airport surpassed pre-Covid levels by 3.9 percent as did the airports of Dublin (2 percent), Istanbul-Sabiha Gokcen (1.3 percent), and Lisbon (13.3 percent). ACI analysts attribute the positive upward trend to intra-European and transatlantic routes, dominated by leisure demand and characterized by significant capacity expansion from low cost carriers.
Greek airports were among the top performers in Europe in terms of 2022 passenger traffic, ACI Europe said last month.
On the downside, airports still well below pre-pandemic levels were those of Berlin (-45.9 percent), Munich (-28 percent), London-Gatwick (-26.9 percent) and Frankfurt (-21.3 percent).
Freight traffic across the European airport network fell by 15 percent in January compared to the same month last year while aircraft movements rose by 28 percent.