ACI EUROPE, the European airport trade body, has released its air traffic report for June and an interim update for July.
According to the report, passenger traffic in Europe’s airports decreased by -64.2% during the first six months of 2020 and in the second quarter it decreased by -96.4% compared to the same period of last year.
In the first half of 2020, the drop of passenger traffic was slightly less pronounced in non-EU airports (-59.8%) than in the EU (-65.6%). This is the consequence of less stringent lockdown measures in several non-EU countries which enabled to rely on domestic air services.
Passenger volumes on international routes decreased similarly at non-EU (-65.1%) and EU level (-65.4%), while the decrease on domestic routes was higher in the EU (-62.9%), than in non-EU airports (-50.7%).
The report highlights also significant changes in the ranking of the top 5 European airports.
In June, the Russian airport Moscow-Domodedovo became the busiest European airport with 716,800 passengers (-73.3%), followed by Paris-CDG (625,900 passengers, -90.9%), Moscow-Sheremetyevo (622,800 passengers, -86.5%), Frankfurt (599,200 passengers, -90.9%) and Istanbul (591,000 passengers, -90.1%). In this same month, passenger traffic across the European airport network fell by -93.2%.
London-Heathrow registered a drop of -95.2% and moved from the top position to the 11th. Similarly, Amsterdam-Schiphol, which last year ranked 3rd, came down to the 7th position (471,800 passengers, -92.7%).
The changes and disruptions in rankings reflect the lack of alignment between European States in terms of travel restrictions. For instance:
- Athens (-87.9%) and Izmir (-77.7%) welcomed more passengers than Munich (-95.1%);
- Sochi (-70.8%) more than Madrid (-96.5%) and Zurich (-93.1%);
- Bergen (-74.9%) more than Lisbon (-94.7%) and Copenhagen (-94.9%);
- Adana (-73.8%) and Tenerife (-80.6%) more than Dublin (-97.2%);
- Trondheim (-77.3%) and Catania (-91.1%) more than Brussels (-96.4%) and Helsinki (-96%).
June was a very hard month for UK airports because of the extreme travel restrictions imposed by the British Government. Not only London-Heathrow, but also several other UK airports came down in the ranking. For instance, London-Gatwick (-99.4%) moved from the 10th to the 92nd position; Manchester (-98.6%) fell from the 18th to the 73rd position; and London-Stansted (-97.8%) from the 24th position to the 59th position.
Also freight traffic experienced a -16% decrease in the first half of 2020, with the decline reaching -23.1% in the second quarter.
The top 10 European airports for freight traffic registered a decline of -13.7%. Only Luxembourg registered an increase of +4%.
After the lifting of travel restrictions in mid-June, the traffic recovery has been slower than what was forecasted. Consequently, in July passenger traffic in European airports still declined by -78% compared to July 2019.
Over the past 2 weeks, the pace of the recovery has further slowed down, due to many new travel restriction measures, including the decision of the UK government to impose quarantine to travelers coming back from Spain.
According to Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE, the recovery is way too slow and Europe’s airports are burning cash. The combination of low volumes and rebates to attract and incentivize air traffic have resulted in weak revenues. Considering that we are now in the peak season for tourism, the situation does not seem positive for the upcoming months. If the recovery keeps going to this pace, many airports will run out of money.