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European Passenger Traffic Close to Its Complete Recovery, ACI Europe Says

Passenger traffic in Europe has almost fully recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic, Airports Council International (ACI) has announced.

Despite standing -1.7 per cent below pandemic levels, in October, passenger traffic marked an increase of 11.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2022, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

ACI Europe’s Director General, Olivier Jankovec, noted the strong momentum towards European airport passenger traffic recovery in October, despite a 36.3 per cent rise in airfares and heightened geopolitical tensions from the conflict in Israel.

Leisure, VFR and to a lesser extent blended travel were key demand drivers, extending dynamics normally associated with the peak Summer months into the autumn. At the same time and while still below where it used to be, business travel also contributed to getting Europe’s airports almost back to their pre-pandemic volumes.

Oliver Jankovec, General Director of ACI Europe

Regional and smaller airports continued to surpass their pre-pandemic passenger traffic levels in October, demonstrating an impressive increase of +9.1 per cent.

Whereas passenger traffic at the top five European airports – London Heathrow, Istanbul, Paris-CDG, Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt –  increased by 14.6 per cent compared to October 2022. However, it remained five per cent below pre-pandemic levels.

The airports with the most impressive performances were those situated in emerging aviation markets, benefiting from changes in traffic patterns resulting from the conflict in Ukraine, such as Uzbekistan (+139 per cent), Armenia (+66 per cent), Kazakhstan (+51 per cent), and/or by Ultra-Low Cost Carrier stimulation, such as Albania (+134 per cent).

Whereas among the EU+ countries, notable performances were achieved by relying on incoming tourism and VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) traffic. Iceland recorded a growth of 25 per cent, followed by Greece with 21 per cent, Slovenia with 20 per cent, and Portugal with 16 per cent.

In the major European markets, Italy (+8 per cent) and Spain (+8 per cent), both dependent on tourism, led the way. They were followed by the UK (-2 per cent), France (-3 per cent), and Germany (-16 per cent).

However, not all airports experienced growth in passenger traffic. Excluding Ukraine, which experienced a complete loss of commercial air traffic since February 2022, airports in the following countries remained the furthest from achieving full recovery: Israel (-49 per cent), Finland (-32 per cent), Sweden (-22 per cent), Slovakia (-20 per cent), and the Czech Republic (-18 per cent).

In general terms, airports that reported the highest increases in passenger traffic compared to pre-pandemic levels include Athens, Palma de Mallorca, Paris, Lisbon, Istanbul, Porto, Malaga, Naples, Catania, Milan, Sochi, Almaty, Astana, Belgrade, Tirana, Burgas, Yerevan, Memmingen, Vrellë/Lipjan, Trapani, Perugia, Porto Santo, Samarkand and Kutaisi.

Last month, ACI Europe also revealed that passenger traffic across European airports increased by 12.1 per cent in the third quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.