A 25-year setback for passenger traffic in European airports

ACI Europe released its full traffic report for 2020, revealing just how devastating was the previous year for Europe’s airports and world tourism in general.

The European airports trade association, ACI Europe, just released its full traffic report for 2020, with overall figures showing the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on air traffic. In 2020, aircraft movement across Europe has plummeted by 58.6 percent, and Europe’s airports have lost 1.72 billion passengers (a decrease of -70.4 percent), in comparison to 2019, setting back passenger traffic in European airports to 1995 levels. Here are some more figures:

The hardest hit airports in Europe were EU airports, with -73 percent loss of passenger traffic, as opposed to -61.9 percent in other non-EU airports. One reason for this might be travel restrictions and lockdowns in Turkey and Russia, which were much less severe.

The five biggest hubs in 2019 lost 250 million passengers last year, with Frankfurt showing the biggest loss (-73.4 percent), with London-Heathrow (-72.7 percent), Amsterdam-Schiphol (-70.9 percent), Paris-CDG (-70.8 percent) close behind. Only Istanbul showed a milder decrease of -59.6 percent.

Outside the EU, airports in Iceland and Georgia were hit the hardest, with -96.2 percent and -94.8 percent traffic loss, respectively; while, as mentioned above, Russia (-44.2 percent) and Turkey (-60.7 percent) proved to be more resilient. By Q4, Istanbul even became the busiest European airport, with its other airport (Sabiha Gokcen) and three Moscow airport coming in at places 2-5.

According to Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe, “With just 728 million passengers in 2020 compared to 2.4 billion passengers in the previous year, Europe’s airports were back to their traffic levels of 1995. No industry can on its own withstand such a shock. While some [countries] have taken steps to financially support their airports, only €2.2 billion has so far been earmarked for that purpose in Europe. This is less than 8% of the revenues airports lost last year.”


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