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International passenger traffic shows strong growth since January 2024| At +12.4% in Greece


The different passenger yields are related to conditions that affect them either positively or negatively, although domestic demand retreating and smaller regional airports underperforming. European airport trade body ACI EUROPE released its air traffic report for January 2024.

Passenger traffic across the European airport network increased by +7% in January compared to the same month last year, with the growth predominantly fuelled by international passengers (+8%) rather than domestic passengers (+2%).

As a result, passenger traffic came very close to a full recovery – standing just 3% below pre-pandemic volumes (January 2019). While international passenger volumes achieved a full recovery (0%) for the first time, domestic traffic remained -13% below January 2019 levels.

Demand generally remained resilient in the face of much increased air fares, even though the growth dynamic slowed down or even stalled in a few markets. This is adding further divergences to an already much fragmented airport market, where geopolitics and structural aviation market changes – including the primacy of leisure demand and selective Low Cost Carrier expansion –  are shaping traffic performance like never before.” commented Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE.

Performance Variations Across National Markets

Impressive results were posted by airports in Slovenia (+29.8%), the Czech Republic (+28.9%), Malta (+22.6%), Poland (+18.9%) and Hungary (+16.6%). At the other end of the spectrum, airports in Sweden (-1.3%) and the Netherlands (‑0.8%) saw their passenger traffic decreasing, while growth was subdued at airports in Romania and Latvia (both at +1.3%) as well as France, Portugal and Norway (all at +1.7%).

When compared to pre-pandemic levels (January 2019) the results were: Malta (+27%), Cyprus (+21.6%), Poland (+20.5%), Croatia (+15.9%), Portugal (+14.8%), Spain (+12.7%) and Greece (+12.4%). Conversely, airports in Slovakia (-38.8%), Sweden (-29.2%), Slovenia (-27.5%), Finland (-24.2%) and Germany (-23.7%) remained farthest from a full recovery.

Airports in the rest of Europe3  saw passenger traffic increasing by +3% in January compared the same month last year, with impressive performances coming from those in Albania (+51.2%), North Macedonia (+47.1%), Uzbekistan (+46.1%), Georgia (37.4%), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (+26.8%).

Performance variations across airport categories

Passenger traffic at the airports with more than 40 million passengers per annum  expanded by +8.3% in January when compared to the same month last year on the back of strong transatlantic demand, the progressive return of Chinese travellers and network airlines adding  more capacity. This resulted in the airports achieving almost a full recovery at ‑1.4% compared to January 2019.

Medium-sized airports registered the best passenger traffic performance, with an average increase of +9.6% in January compared with the same month last year.

Conversely, Small airports registered a -0.7% decrease in passenger traffic in January when compared to the same month last year – and remained -31% below their pre-pandemic levels (January 2019). 

Freight & aircraft movements

In January, freight traffic across the European airport network increased by +13% compared to the same period last year, with EU+ airports at +11% and those in the rest of Europe at +24%. Overall, freight traffic remains at a 8% deficit compared to pre-pandemic (January 2019) levels.

Amongst the top 10 European airports for freight traffic, the best performances in January  compared to the same month last year came from: Madrid (+24.5%), London-Heathrow (+20.5%), Liège and Milan-MXP (both at +16.8%) and Frankfurt (+8.9%).

Throughout January, airports welcoming more than 40 million passengers per year (Majors), airports welcoming between 25 and 40 million passengers (Mega), airports welcoming between 25 and 10 million passengers (Large), airports welcoming between 1 million and 10 million passengers per year (Medium), and airports welcoming between 1000 and 1 million passengers (Small) reported an average change in passenger traffic of -1.4%, -1.8%, -9.2%, +5% and -31% – as compared to their pre-pandemic (January 2019) levels.

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