More specifically, the EU market maintained a dynamic growth trajectory with passenger traffic increasing by +7.2% during the first quarter of 2017.
Within the EU, 11 national markets recorded double-digit growth – mostly in the Eastern part of the bloc along with Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta and Portugal.
Accordingly, many airports posted an impressive performance. These include Cluj (+60.1%), Sofia (+46.9%), Warsaw Chopin (+28.5%), Larnaca (+26.9%), Malta (+22.1%), Bucharest-Otopeni (+21.4%), Lisbon (+21.2%), Porto (+19.9%) and Krakow (+19.1%).
Meanwhile, passenger traffic in the Non-EU market grew at 5.9%. As a result of slower but nevertheless gradually increasing pace, the non-EU market ended up outperforming the EU one in March (+7.4% vs. +6.4%).
This improvement, says ACI Europe, was driven by increasing volumes at Russian, Ukrainian and Norwegian airports as well as by Turkish airports experiencing nearly flat growth in March after months of losses.
The best performing Non-EU market airports in Q1 included Keflavik (+53.7%), Rostov (+38.6%), Kiev-Borispyl (+32.2%), Novosibirsk (+27.8%), St Petersburg (+26.8%) and Ekaterinburg (+20.9%).
The majors (top 5 European airports), saw passenger traffic increasing by +1.9% in Q1 (compared to an average of +1.5% in 2016). Amsterdam-Schiphol kept leading the league in terms of growth (+8.6%), followed by Paris-CDG (+4.3%), London-Heathrow (+2.2%) and Frankfurt (+1.5%).
In a sharp contrast, Istanbul-Atatürk was still down nearly 900,000 passengers (-7%).
Freight traffic across the European airport network improved markedly during Q1 at +8%, with March posting the best monthly performance since April 2011 (+13.7%). Aircraft movements were up +3.0%.
ACI Europe director general, Olivier Jankovec, says: “The momentum for traffic growth is holding on and it may well continue to do so in the coming months.
“The risk of increased political instability for the EU has just receded with the results of the French elections – a very positive factor for our industry.
“The return of a growth dynamic for freight reflects increasing trade, business confidence and the fact that other leading indicators are showing the economy is on the up – especially in the Eurozone.”
He adds: “However, we need to be cautious in our optimism given that the wider geopolitical environment remains more instable than ever.
“The ongoing uncertainty over the implications of Brexit for aviation is unlikely to be resolved quickly – and this might end-up limiting airline capacity growth and network development opportunities for some airports, especially in the UK.”