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NEWS Last modified on June 3, 2011

European traffic bounces back a year after ash crisis

Europe’s passenger numbers rebounded strongly in April, with traffic up 27% compared with last year when volcanic ash grounded thousands of flights.

By Oliver Clark.


Europe’s passenger numbers rebounded strongly in April, with traffic up 27% compared with last year when volcanic ash grounded thousands of flights.


European international traffic was up 31% and domestic increased 17%, while many of the region’s major hubs recording double-digit traffic growth, including Helsinki (+58%), Amsterdam Schiphol (+37%) and London Heathrow (+31%).


Heathrow said it had experienced its busiest April ever after it handled 5.8 million passengers, although a member of the airport press team said a true picture of passenger trends will only be possible after the end of May when the full effects of the later holiday can be better assessed.


A spokesperson for Amsterdam Schiphol Airport said: “The 37% traffic increase is mostly the effect of last year’s ash cloud, last year we had five days when we were closed. There is an underlying traffic growth for the year of between 4-7% growth for 2011 but this number has to be verified.”


Other regions experiencing traffic growth included Latin America (+15.2%), Dubai (+13%) and Abu Dhabi (+15%), while North America achieved a 7.6% increase in international passenger despite the domestic market stagnating, according to the latest ACI World figures.


Commenting on the results Andreas Schimm, ACI World’s director of economics said: “This month’s spike represents more than just compensation for last year’s losses. When we compare back to April 2009, we still see that international traffic volume rose by a strong 12 percent, an indicator of growth over and beyond the compensation for disruptive factors.”


While European airfreight rebounded by 15%, the other two major markets Asia-Pacific (-1%) and North America (-2.9%) reported negative growth.


These results, however, still should be seen in the context of tremendous growth rates of over 30% in the corresponding period 2010. Similar to passenger traffic, Latin America Caribbean generated genuine growth of 11.9% with better increases in the dominant international freight sector, ACI said.

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