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European airport traffic rises but freight remains sluggish

5 February 2016  •  Author: Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, International Airport Review

ACI EUROPE figures suggest average passenger traffic at European airports rose 5.2 percent in 2015. However, freight traffic remained stagnant with an increase of just 0.7 percent.

European airport traffic rises but freight remains sluggish

The European airport trade association, ACI EUROPE has released its traffic report for 2015. Passenger traffic across the European airport network grew by an average 5.2 percent in 2015. At EU airports, the average increase in passenger traffic was 5.6 percent with airports in Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Lithuania achieving double-digit growth. Meanwhile, non-EU airports reported diminished growth of 3.9 percent. This was mainly due to a significant decline in demand for air travel across Russian and Ukrainian airports, as well as almost flat growth in Norway – despite a stellar increase in passenger traffic in Iceland and sustained growth at most Turkish airports.

Air freight traffic grows by 0.7 percent

Freight traffic at Europe’s airports only grew by 0.7 percent, as international trade remained subdued. Aircraft movements saw an increase of 2.2 percent.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI EUROPE, said: “2015 has been a very good year in terms of passenger traffic, with European airports welcoming an estimated 1.95 billion passengers. 20 percent of them achieved a double-digit increase and many broke new traffic records – mostly fuelled by the continued growth of low cost airlines and selected non-EU airlines. EU airports generally performed extremely well, despite Germany and France being impacted by airline & ATC strikes and the Paris terror attacks. Remarkably, Istanbul-Atatürk airport became the 3rd busiest European airport with 61.8 million passengers, after London-Heathrow (74.9 million) and Paris-Charles de Gaulle (65.7 million). It should be noted however that small regional airports across the continent underperformed the European average, with their passenger volume only increasing by +3.8 percent. This is indicative of traffic growth becoming more concentrated and less inclusive.”   

European airport traffic rises but freight remains sluggish

Looking at the outlook for the coming months, Jankovec concluded: “The positive momentum created by improving economic conditions in the Eurozone, low oil prices and loose monetary policy is likely to persist for most of 2016. This should help keep passenger traffic growing – except for Russian airports. However, downside risks abound, and they are mainly of a geopolitical nature – both homegrown and external. These range from the unprecedented migration crisis and its repercussions on Schengen to the UK Brexit, heightened terrorist threats, instability in the Middle East & North Africa and deteriorating prospects in emerging markets.”

2015 European airport traffic breakdown by category

Over the full year, airports welcoming more than 25 million passengers per year (Group 1), airports welcoming between 10 and 25 million passengers (Group 2), airports welcoming between 5 and 10 million passengers (Group 3) and airports welcoming less than 5 million passengers per year (Group 4) reported an average adjustment +3.7%, +6.3%, +7.1% and +5.5%.

The airports which reported the highest increases in passenger traffic during 2015 (compared with 2014) are as follows:

GROUP 1:     Madrid-Barajas (+12.0%), Istanbul IST (+9.1%), Amsterdam (+6.0%), London LGW and Barcelona El-Prat (+5.7%) and Rome FCO (+5.0%)

GROUP 2:     Istanbul SAW (19.7%), Athens (+19.1%), Dublin (+15.3%), London STN (+12.8%) and Izmir (+12.1%)

GROUP 3:     Milan BGY (+18.6%), Gothenburg GOT (+18.1%), Berlin SXF (+16.9%), Porto (+16.7%) and Glasgow (+12.9%)

GROUP 4:     Ohrid (+53.3%), Ponta Delgada (+29.5%), Astrakhan (+26.1%), Santorini/Thira (+87.6%), Cluj and Timisoara (+25.8%)

European airport traffic rises but freight remains sluggish

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