Europe’s airports posted the fastest passenger growth in 13 years in 2017, according to the latest figures released by the Airports Council International (ACI) Europe.
Traffic across the continent’s airport network grew by 8.5 per cent last year with both the non-EU market and the EU market contributing to the performance.
Passenger traffic at non-EU gateways increased 11.4 per cent, and EU airports saw traffic grow 7.7 per cent.
Much of the growth was led by Europe’s busiest five airports, which saw traffic grow by 5.5 per cent in 2017 – collectively welcoming an additional 18 million passengers.
ACI Europe said this reflected both the continued expansion of low-cost carriers in primary markets and the better fortunes of these airports’ hub carriers.
Heathrow Airport (pictured above) remained the busiest at 78 million passengers, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport second at 69.5 million, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol third at 68.5 million, Frankfurt Airport fourth at 64.5 million and Istanbul-Atatürk Airport fifth at 63.9 million.
ACI Europe director general, Oilvier Jankovec said 2017 marks the best year for European airports since 2004, when air traffic was boosted by the accession of 10 countries to the EU and that parallel is “quite something when you consider the current climate includes Brexit and all its uncertainties”.
He added: “This performance comes on top of several years of dynamic growth and shows that demand for air transport keeps outperforming the economy and defying geopolitical risks – for now. It is quite impressive to see that even in the more mature EU market, passenger traffic since 2012 has increased by close to 30 per cent. Such significant growth is putting much pressure on airport facilities and staff with more and more airports now reaching their capacity limits – especially during peak hours.”
Freight traffic across Europe’s airports grew by 8.5 per cent in 2017 and ACI Europe said this reflected a cycle of sustained and synchronised expansion in the global economy and Europe in particular.
Looking ahead, Jankovec said: “This might be as good as it gets and while we anticipate continued growth in the coming months, it will most certainly come at a slower pace. The good news is that the European economy and the Eurozone in particular are set for further expansion – with economic sentiment now close to a 17-year high.
“But on the flip side, rising oil prices are affecting airlines and consolidation is now placing more market share with a handful of powerful airline groups. Couple that with the fast-approaching Brexit deadline on the horizon and it’s not hard to see why Europe’s airports can expect the temperature to rise, as airlines get even choosier about where they maintain existing capacity or open new routes.”