The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Europe’s airports has been revealed by ACI Europe, with new data showing a significant decline in passenger numbers across the first half of the year.
The report states that passenger traffic in European airports fell by 64.2% during the first half of the year, and almost came to complete standstill in the second quarter, with a drop of 96.4% compared with the same period in 2019.
Over the first half of the year, the decrease in passenger traffic was slightly less pronounced in the non-EU market (-59.8%) than in the EU (-65.6%). This was mostly reflective of less stringent lockdowns in several non-EU countries and domestic air services being less affected than international ones, according to ACI Europe.
While passenger volumes on international routes decreased at a similar pace at non-EU and EU airports (respectively -65.1% and -65.4%), the decrease on domestic routes was less acute at non-EU airports (-50.7%) than at EU ones (-62.9%). That was the case in particular for airports in Russia, Norway and, to a lesser extent, Turkey.
This disruption resulted in significant changes in the ranking of the top five busiest European airports. During the month of June, which recorded passenger traffic across the European airport network falling by 93.2%, Moscow-Domodedovo became the busiest European airport with 716,800 passengers (-73.3%).
The Russian airport was followed by Paris-CDG (625,900 passengers, -90.9%), Moscow-Sheremetyevo (622,800 passengers, -86.5%), Frankfurt (599,200 passengers, -90.9%) and Istanbul (591,000 passengers, -90.1%). London-Heathrow (-95.2%), which normally holds the top spot, dropped to 11th position, handling just over 350,700 passengers compared with 7.24 million in June last year. Amsterdam Schiphol, the third busiest European airport last year, dropped to seventh (471,800 passengers, -92.7%).
Disruptions in rankings were not limited to the top five but widespread in the airport league – also reflecting the lack of alignment between European states in lifting travel restrictions.
Europe’s airports also experienced a 16% fall in freight traffic during the first half of the year, with the decline reaching 23.1% in the second quarter. The top 10 European airports for freight traffic registered a decline of 13.7%, with only Luxembourg (+4.0%) posting an increase.