Marseille Airport

Europe’s airport 2020 passenger traffic is back to 1995 levels, according to Airports Council International (ACI) Europe’s traffic report for the Full Year 2020. Compared to 2019, Europe’s airports lost 1.72 billion passengers in 2020, a decrease of -70.4%

The report includes all types of commercial flights to, from and within Europe (full service, low cost, regional, charter, full freight and others) and reveals that EU airports were significantly more impacted (-73% and 1.32 billion passengers lost) than those in the non-EU bloc (-61.9% and 400 million passengers lost). This is mainly due to the size and relative resilience of domestic markets primarily in Russia, but also Turkey, combined with less stringent lockdowns and travel restrictions compared to the EU market.

“With just 728 million passengers in 2020 compared to 2.4 billion passengers in the previous year, Europe’s airports were back to their traffic levels of 1995,” said Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe. “No industry can on its own withstand such a shock. While some states have taken steps to financially support their airports, only €2.2 billion has so far been earmarked for that purpose in Europe. This is less than 8% of the revenues airports lost last year,” he continued.

Jankovec also highlighted that with further decreases in traffic this year and no firm idea of when the industry will recover in sight more needs to be done .“Helping out airports is essential to rebuild air connectivity and effectively support local and regional communities and tourism. It is also critical to restore airports’ investment capabilities for the future. Without more financial support, investments in decarbonisation, digitalisation and SESAR are at risk.”

The size of domestic markets alongside the extent of lockdowns and travel restrictions have resulted in limited variations in extreme passenger traffic losses within the EU while non-EU airports showed stronger signs of recovery than their EU counterparts in terms of passenger traffic in Q4 of 2020.

In Q4 airports in Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Slovenia and Slovakia were still seeing passenger traffic below -90%, with German and UK airports following closely (-87.9% and -86.6%).  Meanwhile airports in Bulgaria (-69%), France (-78.1%), Greece (-72.1%) and Portugal (-77.2%) slightly outperformed the EU average.

Outside the EU, airports in the larger Russian (-44.2%) and Turkish (-60.7%) markets proved the most resilient in Q4, with those in Iceland (-96.2%) and Georgia (-94.8%) being the most impacted.

The report also shows that all segments of the airport industry were almost equally impacted in 2020 in terms of passenger traffic losses from the smaller regionals (-69.4%) to the top five European airports (-71.3%).

Across the European airport network, aircraft movements decreased by -58.6% in 2020 compared to 2019.

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