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Europe’s passenger traffic growth further softens in January at 4.2%

Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos.

EU airports posted an increase of +4.7% – with doubled-digit growth reported by airports in Austria (+20.8%), Estonia (+17.2%) and Greece (+10.6%).

BRUSSELS – European airport trade association, ACI Europe releases its traffic report for January 2019, during which average passenger traffic in geographical Europe grew by +4.2% compared with the same month last year. This marks a slowdown in the growth dynamic of the past years, with this monthly performance being the lowest achieved by Europe's airports since Summer 2016.

The slowdown is primarily due to non-EU airports, which reported an average passenger traffic growth of +2.6% – due to the negative performance of Turkish airports (-4.1%) – reflecting the country's economic woes – and that of Icelandic airports (-6%), following 10 years of exponential growth in passenger traffic at Keflavik airport.

However, gains remained strong in Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine and Israel – where airports on average achieved double digit growth, as well as for a number of Russian airports, including Moscow-Sheremetyevo (+17.4%), Moscow-Vnukovo (+11.6%) and Saint Petersburg (+14%).

EU airports posted an increase of +4.7% – with doubled-digit growth reported by airports in Austria (+20.8%), Estonia (+17.2%) and Greece (+10.6%). Growth was also dynamic in most of the Eastern part of the bloc, as well as in the Iberian Peninsula, Germany and Luxembourg. Conversely, passenger traffic kept dropping in Sweden (-2.7%) for the 5th consecutive month – and airports in the UK, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Croatia, and the Czech Republic underperformed the EU average. 

The Majors (top 5 European airports) grew their passenger traffic by just +1.3% – due to Istanbul-Ataturk reporting negative results (-2.6%) and slower growth at Paris-CDG (+2.9%), Frankfurt (+2.3%), London-Heathrow (+2.1%) and Amsterdam-Schiphol (+1.7%).

Apart from Berlin-Tegel (+42.4%)? and Vienna (+24.4%) being star performers on the back of capacity expansion by Low Cost Carriers, a number of other large/medium size point-to points airports and secondary & niche hubs also posted dynamic results – including: Barcelona (+7.1%), London-Stansted (+7.1%), Milan-Malpensa (+9.6%), Dusseldorf (+15.5%), Athens (+8.5%), Edinburgh (+9.9%), Palma de Mallorca (+19%), Oporto (+9.6%), Lyon (+8.6%) and Venice (+8.6%).

Regional & smaller airports delivered the most contrasted results, with a growing number reporting passenger traffic losses but others still achieving impressive results – including: Sevilla (+23%), Krakow (+15.9%), Thessaloniki (+25.5%), Nantes (+12.2%), Faro (+21.9%), Cagliari (+10.5%), Paphos (+34.1%), Kaunas (+19.9%), Kharkiv (+20.6%), Sibiu (+34.4%), Newquay (+15.7%), Ostend (+21.9%), Caen (+50.5%) and Batumi (+52.1%).  

In line with end of last year, freight traffic continued to fall during January at -2.4% with losses concentrated at EU airports (-3.2%) and not at non-EU ones (+1.9%). Amongst the top 10 European airports for freight traffic only 2 posted gains: Liege (+13.9%) and Madrid (+5%).

Aircraft movements were up +3.9% – increasing by +4.2% in the EU market and by +2.8% in the non-EU bloc.

During the month of January, 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 +3.5%, +6.4%, +2.5% and +3.7%.

The airports that reported the highest increases in passenger traffic during January 2019 (compared with January 2018) are as follows:

  • Group 1: Vienna (+24.4%), Palma De Mallorca (+19%), Moscow SVO (+17.4%), Antalya (+13.8%) and Barcelona & London STN (+7.1%)
  • Group 2: Berlin TXL (+42.4%), Dusseldorf (+15.5%), St Petersburg (+14%), Kiev (+13.6%) and Moscow VKO (+11.6%)
  • Group 3: Thessanloniki (+25.5%), Seville (+23%), Faro (+21.9%), Krakow (+15.9%) and Valencia (+15.8%)
  • Group 4: Mikonos (+182.9%), Kutaisi (+112.2%), Kefallinia (+64.5%), Batumi (+52.1%) and Caen (+50.5%)

The 'ACI Europe Airport Traffic Report – January 2019 includes 241 airports in total representing more than 88% of European air passenger traffic.

ACI Europe Airport Traffic Reports are unique in that they are the only ones to include all types of airline passenger flights to, from and within Europe: full service, low cost, charter and others.

Tatiana Rokou

Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (, and Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.