The European airport trade association, ACI EUROPE, has releases its full year traffic report for 2016. This is the only air transport report which includes all types of airline passenger flights to, from and within Europe: full service, low cost, charter and others.
ACI EUROPE says passenger traffic across the European airport network showed strong momentum in 2016, posting an average growth of +5.1%.
It says all of this growth was generated by the EU market, with airports in the bloc seeing passenger volumes increasing by an impressive +6.7%. While terrorist attacks took a toll on demand in Belgium, France and to a much lesser extent Germany, their impact remained local and had subsided by year-end.
Conversely, passenger traffic at non-EU airports posted an average decrease of -0.9%, mainly due to falling traffic at Turkish airports (-6.6%) caused by terrorism and political instability. Although gradually improving after the summer, passenger traffic remained weak at Russian airports for the whole year – meanwhile, other non-EU markets such as Iceland, Israel and Ukraine experienced very dynamic growth.
The ACI report states that the significant drop in leisure demand at Turkish airports contributed to the performance of the EU market, with this demand shifting to airports in Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Romania and Spain. This helped most of these markets achieving double digit growth – along with Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Poland.
Freight traffic grew across Europe’s airports by +4.1% – registering the best performance since 2010 and confirming improving economic conditions for Europe. Aircraft movements grew by +3.2%, reflecting significant airline capacity expansion compared to previous years.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE commented: “Europe’s airports broke the 2 billion passengers mark last year – an absolute record. While geopolitics and terrorism in particular played an increasing role in shaping the fortunes & misfortunes of many airports, the underlying story is one of continued growth and expansion – with passenger volumes growing in excess of +5% for the third consecutive year. This means that Europe’s airports have welcomed an additional 300 million passengers since 2013, with 80% of it – 240 million – flooding the EU market. Unsurprisingly, that increase is starting to weigh on capacity levels, operations and resources.
He added: “Much of this impressive performance is down to 3 interrelated factors: 1. improving economic conditions driven by private consumption and falling unemployment, 2. low oil prices and 3. airline capacity expansion.”