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The Recovery of Europe's Airports Remains Inconsistent

40 percent of Europe's airports have either matched or surpassed pre-pandemic passenger levels.

The Recovery of Europe’s Airports Remains Inconsistent

As the aviation industry continues its recovery, 40 percent of Europe’s airports have either matched or surpassed pre-pandemic passenger levels. According to the latest report by ACI Europe, passenger traffic across the continent in February was still 12 percent lower than in February 2019.

However, there was a 48 percent increase in European passenger numbers compared to February 2022, when Omicron-related travel restrictions were still in place. International traffic saw a year-on-year surge of 58 percent, while domestic numbers only grew by 22 percent over the same period.

Cyprus, Malta, and Austria saw the highest year-on-year growth in passenger numbers during the month, while Germany’s airline industry continues to struggle, with passenger numbers remaining 33 percent lower than pre-Covid levels, representing the poorest performance among major European nations.

On the other hand, Spain’s airport traffic exceeded 2019 levels by 2.2 percent in February, indicating a faster recovery than the German market. France (-7.3 percent), Italy (-10.6 percent), and the UK (-12.9 percent) are also recovering more quickly than Germany.

In February, London Heathrow regained its title as the busiest airport in Europe, ahead of Istanbul, with only a 5.1 percent decrease in passenger numbers compared to pre-Covid levels. Paris Charles de Gaulle came in third place, followed by Madrid and Amsterdam Schiphol.

ACI Europe said there were “significant divergences” in performance between countries in Europe, with Portugal, Luxembourg and Cyprus leading the way, while Slovakia, Slovenia and Germany remain “farthest from achieving a full recovery”.

“This reflected a mix of factors including the impact of the war in Ukraine, the lack of penetration or loss of low-cost carrier traffic and industrial action,” said ACI Europe in its monthly update.

Lisbon and Tel Aviv were among the airports that showed the most impressive year-on-year growth, while Berlin, Munich, Helsinki, Prague, Frankfurt, London Gatwick, and Stockholm were among the major airports with the worst performance in terms of recovery towards their 2019 traffic levels.