Freight traffic and passenger traffic slowed down in Europe in 2012 as data from the European airport trade body, ACI EUROPE, reveals. Europe’s airports overall passenger traffic saw an increase of only 1.8% compared to 2011. Airports in the European Union countries had an increase of merely 0.2% in 2012 (and had been in recession since October), while non-EU airports saw an 8.8% increase. Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Iceland and Moldova are the leading countries from this point of view. In what freight traffic at European airports is concerned, it decreased by -2.8% during the last year.
“More than ever, Europe is a two-speed aviation market. Since 2008, passenger traffic has grown by less than +2.5% at EU airports and by more than +38% at non-EU ones. For now, EU airports are stuck in recession for both passenger and freight traffic,” said Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI EUROPE. “The Eurozone economies may show signs of stabilising, but the ‘positive contagion’ referred to by the European Central Bank remains elusive when it comes to air traffic. This reflects weak business confidence and record unemployment levels in many countries, but also the woes of several European airlines which are downsizing and cutting capacity.”
“While there are a few green shoots with air traffic now picking up in Ireland and Portugal, the outlook for 2013 remains grim for EU airports – and still very dynamic for most other ones. Based on the prevailing trading conditions, our best estimate is for nearly flat growth (+0.5%) in passenger traffic at Europe’s airports for the year ahead,” Jankovec added. “Many airports are now facing a new reality of slower and more contrasted traffic growth. Given our industry’s traditional reliance on dynamic traffic growth to sustain its capital intensive-nature and high proportion of fixed costs, this is a significant business challenge. In all probability, things are going to get worse before they get better”.
ACI EUROPE splits airports in four groups based on the number of passengers per year. Group 1, which includes airports welcoming more than 25 million passengers per year, had an average 2012 increase of +2.5%. The best performing airports in this group were Istanbul IST (+20.3%), Moscow SVO (+16.1%), Moscow DME (+9.6%), Amsterdam (+2.6%) and Barcelona (+2.2%).
Group 2 consists of airports welcoming between 10 and 25 million passengers and had an average increase of +8.2%, with best performing airports such as Istanbul SAW (+8.4%), Berlin TXL (+8.1%), Nice (+7.4%), Geneva (+5.9%) and Vienna (+5.0%).
Airports welcoming between 5 and 10 million passengers (Group 3) had an average increase of +8.3%, and the best performing airports in this group were Bucharest OTP (+41.0%), Charleroi (+10.6%), Izmir (+9.6%), Ankara (+8.6%) and Toulouse-Blagnac (+8.2%).
Finally, airports welcoming less than 5 million passengers per year (Group 4) had an average increase of +8.4%, and the airports with best results in this group were Arad (+1,236.6%), Vatry (+71.7%), Vilnius (+28.9%), Paphos (+25.0%) and Kiruna (+20.5%).
While November and December were low in traffic, December had an alarming traffic result of -3.1%, thus the yearly low average.
Some of the average increases are incredible – like Arad airport in Romania with +1,236.6%. The poor general increase figure could be the result of the recession in Europe and it remains to be seen how 2013 data will look like.