ACI Europe releases August 2022 passenger traffic results

Posted: 20 October 2022 | | No comments yet

According to Airports Council International Europe, passenger traffic in August 2022 stood at -12 per cent below pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

Airport Councils International Europe (ACI Europe) has released its air traffic report for August 2022.

Passenger traffic across the European airport network increased by +51 per cent in August compared to the same month last year (2021), with the surge mostly driven by international passenger traffic (+70 per cent) as restrictions to cross-border travel both within Europe and to most external markets had lifted. Domestic passenger traffic (+ eight per cent) grew at a much slower pace.

When compared to pre-pandemic (August 2019) levels, passenger traffic in August stood at -12 per cent, a further improvement on the previous months (July at -14.4 per cent and June at -17.3 per cent) and the best monthly performance since the start of the pandemic.

EU+ market in the lead and war impact visible

The EU+ market kept driving the recovery, with passenger traffic at airports in the bloc increasing by +64 per cent in August compared to the same month last year. The best performances came from airports in the UK (+178 per cent), Finland (+175 per cent) and Ireland (+147 per cent), reflecting the fact that governments in these countries had been slower to ease travel restrictions last year (2021).

When compared to pre-pandemic (August 2019) levels, airports in Greece (+4.5 per cent), Luxembourg (+6.4 per cent) and Iceland (+0.2 per cent) achieved a full passenger traffic recovery in August. Meanwhile, airports in other large tourism markets including Portugal (-5.8 per cent), Spain (-7.4 per cent), Italy (-8.5 per cent) and Croatia (-8.6 per cent), along with those in Romania (-6.8 per cent) and Lithuania (-7.8 per cent) came closest to a full recovery. Conversely, airports in Slovenia (-40.1 per cent), Finland (-37.7 per cent), Latvia (-31.1 per cent), the Czech Republic (-30.5 per cent) and Bulgaria (-29.3 per cent) significantly outperformed, in large part a reflection of the impact of the war in Ukraine and related sanctions against Russia and Belarus. Amongst larger markets, the performance of airports in France (-13.5 per cent) and Germany (-14.2 per cent) was similar, with those in the UK (-19 per cent) still lagging behind.

Overall, the EU+ market stood at -14 per cent in August 2022 compared to pre-pandemic (August 2019) volumes. 

At airports in the rest of Europe, passenger traffic only increased by + seven per cent when compared to the same month last year (2021). This mostly reflected the effects of the war, with the loss of all commercial air traffic for Ukrainian airports, declining passenger volumes airports in Belarus (-16.6 per cent) and Russia (-17.2 per cent), as well as flat results for those in Moldova (-0.3 per cent).

When compared to pre-pandemic (August 2019) levels, passenger traffic in the rest of Europe stood at -16 per cent. Airports in Albania (+60.3 per cent), Bosnia-Herzegovina (+31.2 per cent), Kosovo (+22.7 per cent) and Armenia (+21.4 per cent) far exceeded their pre-pandemic volumes, while those in the major market of Turkey (-4.5 per cent) came close to a full recovery. At the other end of the spectrum, airports in Belarus (-60.6 per cent) and Moldova (-20.4 per cent) registered steep declines, with those in Russia (+5.7 per cent) still managing to remain above their pre-pandemic volumes as passenger traffic shifted to domestic and non-EU+ routes.

Recovery patterns shaping airport performance

Passenger traffic at the Majors (top five European airports) grew by +68.1 per cent in August compared to the same month in 2021, but remained -17.5 per cent below pre-pandemic (August 2019) levels – mainly due to continued travel restrictions in parts of Asia.

  • Istanbul was once again the busiest European airport – welcoming 6.8 million passengers during the month. The airport was the only major European hub whose passenger volumes exceeded pre-pandemic (August 2019) levels (+ one per cent). Its passenger traffic increased by nearly +50 per cent when compared to August 2021
  • London-Heathrow came second with 6.04 million passengers, closely followed by Paris-CDG with 6.02 million passengers. Volumes increased by +170.5 per cent and +69.5 per cent respectively for the British and French hubs compared to the same month in 2021 – and remained for both at about -20 per cent below pre-pandemic (August 2019) levels
  • Capacity restrictions limited passenger traffic to 5.33 million at Amsterdam-Schiphol (+40.7 per cent compared to the same month 2021 / -21.8 per cent compared to August 2019) and to 5.19 million at Frankfurt (+54.1 per cent compared to the same month 2021 / -25 per cent compared to August 2019).

The performance of selected other large airports in August reflected a summer recovery still mainly driven by intra-European and transatlantic routes, and dominated by leisure demand:

  • Antalya handled just 6,000 passengers less than major hub Frankfurt and was the sixth busiest European in August (-7.5 per cent compared to August 2019)
  • Paris-Orly exceeded its pre-pandemic (August 2019) passenger volumes by +7.2 per cent
  • Palma de Mallorca (-2.8 per cent), Lisbon (-5.8 per cent), Athens (-6.1 per cent), London-Stansted (-9.3 per cent) and Dublin (-10.2 per cent) came closest to a full recovery of their pre-pandemic (August 2019) passenger volumes.  

Meanwhile, the fact that regional and smaller airports3 also came close to a full passenger traffic recovery (-4.7 per cent for airports with less than 10 million passengers per annum when compared to August 2019) also reflected the same dynamics – along with the significant capacity expansion from Ultra-Low Cost Carriers.

There were however significant variations in performance amongst regional airports, with those serving popular tourist destinations and/or relying on Low Cost Carriers seeing passenger volumes exceeding pre-pandemic (August 2019) levels – including: Oradea (+124.9 per cent), Turin (+64.6 per cent), Zadar (+55.4 per cent), Santorini (+41.1 per cent), Kutaisi (+26.6 per cent), Trieste (+23.8 per cent), Kerkyra (+20.6 per cent), Harstad (+15.9 per cent), Chania (+18 per cent), Rotterdam (+12 per cent), Naples (+12.7 per cent), Santander (+12.1 per cent), Billund (+9.7 per cent), Olbia (+nine per cent) and Charleroi (+nine per cent).

 Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe said: “August’s snapshot shows us how polarised the situation is becoming for Europe’s airports as they are dominated by externalities. On the one hand, the public appetite to travel is undimmed – as the holiday surge shows. On the other hand, we have the reality of war. The simple fact of geography is going to have a heavy hand in our members’ fortunes for some time to come it seems”.

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