European airports traffic almost doubles year-on-year but still lags behind 2019

Passengers at Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), in Schoenefeld near Berlin
Passengers walk at Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), in Schoenefeld near Berlin, Germany, July 7, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

Feb 7 (Reuters) - Traffic at European airports almost doubled year-on-year in 2022 but remained below pre-COVID levels, Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) said on Tuesday.

Last year's traffic jumped 98% compared with 2021 to 1.94 billion passengers but was still 21% below the levels seen in 2019, before the pandemic, with just 27% of the continent's airports having fully recovered, the trade association which represents over 500 airports in 55 countries, added.

"This is not yet a full recovery. Europe's airports were still short 500 million passengers in 2022 compared to where they stood before the pandemic hit," Olivier Jankovec, ACI's Director General, said in a statement.

He added that despite this year's uncertainty over the war in Ukraine and supply pressures from airlines' capacity reductions during the pandemic, the traffic outlook is getting better, with demand headwinds "easing somewhat" with China's reopening, subsiding recession fears in Europe and softening inflation.

Among the five busiest airports in Europe - the majors, with traffic rising 114% but falling 22.6% short of 2019 levels - the association cites Istanbul, London Heathrow, Paris Charles De Gaulle, Amsterdam Schiphol and Madrid, marking a change from 2021 when the top five was dominated by Turkey and Russia.

Amongst those having fully recovered their 2019 volumes, 90% were smaller and regional airports, ACI said, thanks to leisure demand, low-cost carriers driving performance and limited or no exposure to Asia, whereas the airports in Kazakhstan and Armenia benefited from an influx of traffic from Russia.

Reporting by Olivier Sorgho and Piotr Lipinski; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Louise Heavens

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