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NEWS Last modified on June 11, 2013

Aviation leaders reflect on changing times for the industry at airport conference in Istanbul

Airport leaders reflected on changing times for the industry during the opening session of this year's joint ACI Europe/World Annual Congress & Exhibition in Istanbul.

For airports, this transformation now includes a stronger focus on business strategy and costs, direct engagement with passengers, increased quality, and diversification of revenues, according to ACI Europe.

These developments have reinforced airports’ status as fully-fledged and competitive businesses, focused on their customers and supporting the economies of their communities.

On this occasion, ACI Europe addressed the immediate outlook for its 451 strong airport membership spanning 44 countries.

Air traffic outlook

It nited that 2012 saw a significant weakening in the recovery of air traffic that followed the 2008/2009 global financial crisis.

While overall passenger traffic grew by 1.8% and Europe’s airport welcomed a record 1.61 billion passengers, the year saw a progressive slowdown with EU airports starting to lose traffic as of last October.

The situation has further deteriorated since the start of 2013, with passenger numbers at EU airports receding by almost 2%.

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe, said: “Europe is not just about a two-speed aviation market between EU and non-EU countries.

“There is also a big divide between the larger hubs and the smaller regional airports. The hubs are showing a lot of resilience due to their reliance on intercontinental traffic.

“Meanwhile, small regional airports are almost exclusively dependent on intra-European demand and they have been the hardest hit by airlines’ capacity and route cutting. Overall, 48% of Europe’s airports are losing traffic.” 

With the pace of growth slowing down in the global economy, record unemployment increasingly being recognised as the new Eurozone crisis and no tangible prospects for real improvement in the economy this year, demand for air transport is likely to be stagnant at best.

ACI Europe now forecasts for the full year 2013, total passenger traffic growth of just 0.5% and no growth for freight traffic.

After nearly two years of constant decline, freight traffic shows no sign of turning around, standing at -1% since January.

Apart from continued weakness in industrial output and domestic consumption, the discrepancy between passenger and freight traffic could reflect more structural factors.

These may include changing supply chain strategies towards more local production and a less favourable cost/benefit equation for air freight.

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