ACI Europe reports robust passenger traffic growth in Q1

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ACI Europe has reported that in the first quarter (Q1) passenger traffic at Europe’s airports grew by an average of 4.4 per cent.

The European airport trade body said the European Union (EU) market showed robust growth of 4.8 per cent in Q1, despite March traffic being affected by the Easter holidays slipping to April this year.

During the month of March, average passenger growth across the EU region was 3.8 per cent. EU airports grew by 4.1 per cent and non-EU ones by 2.7 per cent.

Airports in Austria (+21.6 per cent) and Estonia (+13.3 per cent) posted double-digit growth in Q1 while those in Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg also grew well above the EU average.

Conversely, Sweden was the only country reporting passenger traffic declining 4.1 per cent) mainly as a result of the country’s aviation tax and fast increasing environmental pressures limiting demand.

Meanwhile, passenger traffic barely grew in Denmark (+0.9 per cent) and significantly underperformed in Belgium (+1.9 per cent) due to ATM strikes as well as in the Netherlands (+1.8 per cent), due to severe airport capacity limitations.

Airports in the non-EU market grew at a slower pace in Q1 of 2.9 per cent, mainly due to traffic losses in Turkey (-3.7 per cent) as a result of the recession affecting the country) and Iceland (-8.8 per cent) following the bankruptcy of Wow Air in the final days of March.

However, passenger traffic in Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Belarus remained extremely dynamic, achieving double-digit growth.

ACI Europe director general, Olivier Jankovec (pictured above) said: “While softening compared to the past 2 years, passenger traffic remains dynamic – especially in the EU. This reflects improved economic data in the Eurozone and a more benign global economic outlook for now.

“But, while prospects have somehow moved from a half-empty glass to a half-full one, black spots still abound. Volatile oil prices, continued airline consolidation, ATM disruptions and increasing airport capacity constraints will limit airline capacity growth in the coming months.

“On the demand side, sliding imports and a risk of trade escalations are ever-present. And over the medium-term, rising concerns about aviation’s environmental impact will likely add to the downward pressures.”