Europe’s airports catered for 1.94 billion passengers last year but this was still more than one-fifth below 2019’s traffic level, despite being double 2021’s total.
The latest statistics from airports body ACI Europe largely reflect IATA’s airline traffic figures, which were also released this week.
ACI Europe found that only 27 per cent of European airports had recovered to pre-Covid traffic levels last year, with 90 per cent of these airports being small or regional gateways.
Istanbul was the continent’s busiest airport in 2022 with 64.3 million passengers during the year but was overtaken by London Heathrow in November. The next busiest airports were Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam Schiphol and Madrid.
Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, called last year’s rebound in air travel “phenomenal” but added that it was “not yet a full recovery”.
“Europe’s airports were still short 500 million passengers in 2022 compared to where they stood before the pandemic hit,” said Jankovec. “There were significant gaps in traffic performance between hubs and smaller regional airports as well as across national markets.”
Jankovec added that there was “a lot of uncertainty” about 2023’s prospects with the ongoing war in Ukraine. Although some “headwinds” were easing with the reopening of China’s borders last month and fears of a recession across Europe “subsiding”.
“Supply pressures are likely to remain significant given the structural capacity reductions made by most airlines during the pandemic, their strong focus on increasing yields through higher airfares rather than market share, aircraft delivery delays and labour shortages still being an issue in some markets,” warned Jankovec.