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European passenger traffic grows by nearly 5% in first half of 2016

Trade association Airports Council International (ACI) Europe today (August 9) released its airport traffic report for June, the second quarter of 2016 (Q2) and the first half of 2016 (H1).

The report includes all types of civil aviation passenger flights, including full service, low cost and charter, and revealed that during the first half of this year, passenger traffic at Europe’s airports grew by an average of 4.9%.

The report also showed that passenger traffic in the European Union (EU) during H1 grew by a robust 6.2%. Growth dynamics varied between EU countries, with the core markets of France, Germany and Italy performing below the EU average, while Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Spain all achieved double-digit growth. However, the pace of growth diminished between the first and the second quarter, from 8.2% to 4.8%. This affected almost all EU markets – and especially Belgium in the wake of the Brussels terrorist attacks.

A large part of that growth was concentrated on secondary hubs and large- to mid-sized airports, such as Berlin-Schönefeld (+39.4%), Cologne-Bonn (+19.8%), Bucharest (+16.5%), Dublin (+13.4%), Barcelona (+12.7%), Birmingham (+12.6%), Budapest (+11.9%) and Copenhagen (+10.9%).

Meanwhile, among the five-busiest EU airports, traffic growth at London Heathrow, Paris CDG and Frankfurt stalled, while Amsterdam Schiphol (+9.9%) and Madrid (+8.6%) reported impressive increases. This generally reflects the fact that low-cost carriers remain the main drivers of traffic expansion for EU airports, as well as airport capacity constraints.

Olivier Jankovec, director general, ACI Europe, said, “Beyond an overall healthy traffic performance at pan-European level for the first six months of the year, these figures reveal a severe slump in passenger demand in the non-EU bloc affecting mainly Turkey and Russia – as well as a significant growth deceleration in the EU market. In both cases, these worrying trends are due to the impact of terrorism and accrued geopolitical instability. Since these traffic figures do not yet reflect the full impact of the Istanbul Atatürk Airport terrorist attack and the failed coup in Turkey, we expect a further worsening of airport traffic performance over the summer and for the remainder of the year.

“EU airports are also likely to see a continued softening of passenger traffic on the back of lower consumer confidence fueled by terrorism and the decision of the UK to leave the EU, as well as major full-service airlines reining in capacity. The only positive remains the price of oil – which should help limit the extent of capacity cuts and keep low-cost carriers in expansion mode.”

August 9, 2016


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