European airport trade association, ACI Europe has released its traffic report for December, Q4, H2 and Full Year 2019. This is the only air traffic report that includes all types of airline passenger flights to, from and within Europe (full service, low cost, regional, charter and others).
Passenger traffic across the European airport network (46 countries) grew by +3.2% in 2019. While this is just over half the growth rate registered in 2018 (+6.1%) and the weakest performance in five years, it still resulted in Europe’s airports welcoming a record 2.43 billion passengers in 2019.
The passenger growth slowdown in 2019 was more significant at non-EU airports and largely driven by a decline in domestic traffic (-1.1%), as international traffic kept growing dynamically (+4.6%). It also reflected airline consolidation and limited airline capacity expansion, as aircraft movements only increased by +1.1% during the year and even became negative in the last Q4 (-1.2%). Meanwhile, freight traffic dropped by 1.9% in 2019, the worst performance since 2012.
Olivier Jankovec, Director General, ACI Europe, said : “Over the past five years, Europe’s airports have increased their passenger traffic by more than +32% – meaning they have actually accommodated an extra 595 million passengers since 2014 – but 2019 has been a pivotal year. Volumes were still up, but the decelleration has been notable on the back of both supply and demand pressures.”
Looking at the months ahead, he noted that many airports have planned for continued lower growth in passenger traffic in the face of uncertain trading conditions. “Some of the supply side pressures might start easing, especially if the B737 MAX is finally approved to fly again and if the recent decrease in oil prices is not reversed. However, there are for now few if any signals that airlines may be considering more capacity expansion – and further airline consolidation remains an ongoing reality.
“The immediate big question mark is what happens with the coronavirus outbreak. Europe’s airports have been co-ordinating closely with and assisting public health authorities in their containment efforts. The traffic impact so far has been marginal and mostly limited to those airports with direct air services to China. We estimate that in February the top10 EU/UK airports will collectively lose 475.000 passengers, which should amount to just 1.2% of their total traffic for the month. But as wider economic consequences start kicking-in in China and potentially beyond, the impact on air traffic could become more widespread and significant for Europe’ airports.”