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ACI Europe: Air passenger traffic up 6.1% in 2018

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ACI Europe has reported today that air passenger traffic across the continent’s airports was up 6.1 per cent in 2018 as an additional six million passed through gateways.

The airport association said the total number of passengers using Europe’s airports to a new record of 2.34 billion and it is up 36 per cent over the past five years and growth remained “very dynamic” – especially considering underlying economic trends and geopolitical tensions.

However, ACI Europe said airport capacity constraints are becoming “more widespread and evident” and it also raised concerns over the impact that Brexit will have and said pressures on passenger traffic are likely to come both from demand and supply sides in the year ahead.

Director general, Olivier  said: “Once again, passenger traffic has shown remarkable resilience in 2018, with Europe’s airports welcoming an additional 136.6 million passengers.

“This means that in just 5 years, passenger traffic has expanded by more than a third (36%) – with more than 629 million additional passengers – of which 445 million were in the EU alone.

“Managing such growth has been quite a challenge and the strain on airport facilities and staff is real. Capacity and quality are now major issues for an increasing number of airports across Europe. This of course requires investment but also greater operational efficiency – through effective airport-ATM integration and alignment with all other stakeholders.”

Passenger traffic at European Union’s (EU) airports posted an average increase of 5.4 per cent in 2018 (compared with +7.7 per cent in 2017) – with ATM disruptions, airline strikes and consolidation limiting gains in several markets up to the Summer. Since then growth has been on an upward trend, with December closing at a nearly seven per cent rise.

Airports in the Eastern & Southern parts of the EU achieved the best performances, along with those in Austria and Luxembourg.

Meanwhile, non-EU airports saw passenger traffic expand by +8.3 per cent (compared to +7.7 per cent in 2017). However, unlike in the EU market, growth has followed a downward trend throughout the year, from an impressive +14.6 per cent in January to +3.5 per cent in December.

This was mainly due to domestic demand at Turkish airports being affected by the country’s economic woes (total passenger traffic growth at Turkish airports stood at +0.9 per cent in Q4), weaker demand at Norwegian airports and growth coming to halt at Icelandic airports towards the end of the year (-0.1 per cent in December).

Conversely, airports in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Israel, Albania, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina grew above the non-EU average.