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NEWS Last modified on February 6, 2016

Europe's airports handle a record 1.95 billion passengers in 2015

A total of 1.95 billion passengers used Europe’s airports in 2015 as traffic across the network grew by an average +5.2%, according to ACI Europe.

With 74.9 million passengers, Heathrow maintained its status as Europe’s busiest gateway followed by Paris CDG with 65.7 million and Istanbul Atatürk, which became the continent’s third busiest gateway after handling a record 61.3 million passengers.

At EU airports, the average increase in passenger traffic was +5.6% with airports in Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Lithuania achieving double-digit growth, says ACI Europe.

Meanwhile, non-EU airports reported diminished growth of +3.9%. It attributes the dip to a significant decline in demand for air travel across Russian and Ukrainian airports, as well as almost flat growth in Norway – despite a stellar increase in passenger traffic in Iceland and sustained growth at most Turkish airports.

Freight traffic at Europe’s airports only grew by +0.7%, as international trade remained subdued. Aircraft movements saw an increase of +2.2%. 
ACI Europe’s director general, Olivier Jankovec, called 2015 “a very good year in terms of passenger traffic”, which the continent’s airports welcoming close to two billion passengers.

He noted: “Twenty per cent of our airports achieved a double-digit increase and many broke new traffic records – mostly fuelled by the continued growth of low cost airlines and selected non-EU airlines. 

“EU airports generally performed extremely well, despite Germany and France being impacted by airline & ATC strikes and the Paris terror attacks.

“It should be noted however that small regional airports across the continent underperformed the European average, with their passenger volume only increasing by +3.8%. This is indicative of traffic growth becoming more concentrated and less inclusive." 

Looking at the outlook for the coming months, Jankovec concluded: “The positive momentum created by improving economic conditions in the Eurozone, low oil prices and loose monetary policy is likely to persist for most of 2016. LHR2
“This should help keep passenger traffic growing – except for Russian airports. However, downside risks abound, and they are mainly of a geopolitical nature – both homegrown and external. 

“These range from the unprecedented migration crisis and its repercussions on Schengen to the UK Brexit, heightened terrorist threats, instability in the Middle East & North Africa and deteriorating prospects in emerging markets."

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