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For December, Q4, H2 and the full year 2019, the European Trade Association of Airports, ACI Europe released its traffic report. The only air traffic study that covers all categories of passenger flights (full service, low cost, regional, charter and others) to Europe, from and around Europe.

European airport network passenger traffic (46 countries) increased in 2019 by+ 3.2 percent. While the 2018 growth rate is just over half (+ 6.1 percent) and the lowest in five years, it has contributed to the unprecedented 2,43 billion passengers being received in 2019 at Europe’s airports.

In 2019, the decline in passenger growth was more important at non-EU airports and was led by a decrease (-1.1%), as international traffic continued to grow steadily, with an increase of + 4.6%. The consolidation of airlines and limited expansion of airline capacities also reflected that aircraft movements only increased by+ 1,1% during the year, and were even negatively affected in the last quarter(-1,2%). In 2019, freight traffic fell by -1.9%, the worst result since 2012.

In the last 5 years, passenger traffic has grown by over + 32 percent over European airports. That’s 595 million passengers more than they have accommodated since 2014. Nevertheless, 2019 was a critical year. Volumes had not yet increased, but both supply and demand pressures showed a noticeable deceleration.

Looking ahead, the company acknowledged that in the face of volatile trade conditions many airports have expected a further lower growth in passenger traffic. Some supply side pressures may be eased, especially if the 737 MAX is finally approved for a flight again, and if the recent oil price decrease is not reversed. Nonetheless, few signs are currently available that airlines can plan to increase capacities-and further restructuring of airlines is still in progress.

Which happens when the coronavirus epidemic is the immediate big question mark. Airports in Europe were closely partnered with and assisted in their containment efforts by public health organizations. The impact of traffically on those airports with direct air services to China has so far been small and largely limited. The top 10 EU / UK airports1 in February are estimated to lose 475,000 passengers collectively, representing only 1.2 percent of the overall traffic in the month. However the effect on air traffic could become wider and significant to Europe’s airports, given that wider economic effects start to kick-in in China and potentially beyond it.

Growth of EU Airports Hit by Failed Airlines and Capacity Limitations

The traffic of EU airports increased by+ 3.3% in 2019 (compared with+ 5.4% in 2018). The figure for the last year was an additional 57.8 million passengers— the annual airport traffic equivalent. In 2019, the EU sector accounted for 76% of the overall growth in European passenger traffic.

As the year progressed, growth halved (from+ 4.8% in Q1 and + 1.9% in Q4)–even though it rebounded somewhat in December (+ 3%). This mainly reflected the exposure of airports at European Union levels to airlines bankruptcies as well as at European airlines which, under less favorable economic conditions and incertainties in Brexit, generally restricted capacity growth and net expansion.

More than twice the EU level has risen in airports in Austria, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Malta, Luxembourg and Portugal. In Sweden, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia airports in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Greece have been declining, although passenger traffic has increased.

The most important development of the EU airports was from Vienna (+ 17,1%), Milan and Mallorca (+ 16,6%2), Riga (+ 10,5%), Berlin, Txl (+ 10,0%), Luxembourg, Tallinn (+ 8,0%), London, Luther (+ 8,60%), Lisbon, Madrid (+ 6,6%), Bucharest and Warsaw (+ 6,0%) among capital cities and larger airports The European Union ‘ s most significant growth was the increase in the number of passengers coming from Wien (+ 17,0%).

Strongly Decelerating Non-Eu Market

Non-EU airports saw a significant decrease in passenger traffic growth of + 3% in 2019 relative to the preceding year (+ 8.3% in 2018). In 2019, only another 18.3 million passengers were added to Non-EU airports.

While the non-EU market has been impacted by airline bankruptcies (WOW), macro-economic conditions generally have been more significant in shaping their fortunes, which are having a considerable impact on domestic passenger traffic(-3,6 per cent). Those factors account for a significant shift in the output of passenger traffic across non-EU markets, from the remarkable increase of Ukraine’s airports (+ 22.3%), to Iceland’s extreme downturn (–26.1%). Russia has risen above the non-EU average (+ 5.8%), among the largest markets, whereas Turkish airports have only expanded slightly(+ 0.4%).

Kyiv-Boryspil, Tirana (+ 13.3%), Minsk (+ 12.5%), Erevan (+ 12.3%) and Moscow-Vnukovo (+ 11.7%), Pristina (+ 9.6%) and Skopje&Sarajevo (+ 9.3%) and Belgrade (+ 9.2%) were the best performing companies for passenger traffic at capital and large non-EU airports.

Poor Performance of Large and Smaller Regional Airports

In 2019, passenger traffic at Majors fell by + 1.8%, down from + 4.8% the previous year. (Top five European airports).

The main factors that impeded their success were ongoing physical capacity limitations and airlines restricting growth. The Majors added a total of 6.5%, 60% of which was increased by 60% by Paris-CDG alone (+ 5.5.0%-2. position 76.2 million passengers), followed by Frankfurt, London-Heathrow(+ 1.5% — 1st place 80.8 million), Amsterdam-Schiphol (+0.9%— 3rd position, with 70.5 million passengers) and 51% of smaller regional airports saw their traffic increasing, compared to 77% for the rest of the industry – reflecting once again the fragility of their markets.

Nevertheless, there were significant increases in passenger traffic at many major regional airports including Kraków (+ 24.2%), Seville (+ 18.3%), Nantes (+ 16.7%), Dubrovnik (+ 14.1%), Bordeaux (+ 13.3%), Brest (+ 11.8%), Bologna (+ 10.6%), Bari (+ 10.2%), Porto(+ 9.8%), Valencia (+ 9.8%). Such figures are the achievement of their route development strategy and the ongoing expansion, including new long-haul services, of direct international air connectivity.

Categories of Traffic and the Highest Growth in 2019

Airports accommodating more then 25 million flights a year (group 1), airport accommodating between 10 and 25 million passengers (group 2) and airports accomodating between 5 million and 10 million passengers (group 3) were recorded in 2019. Average + 3.0 percent, + 4.8 percent and + 1.6 percent were recorded at airports accommodating less than 5 million passengers per year (group4).

The most important airports in 2019 (compared to 2018) reported increased passenger transport:

Group 1: Vienna (+17.1%), Antalya (+12.8%), Moscow SVO (+8.9%), Lisbon (+7.4%) and Madrid (+6.6%)

Group 2: Kyiv KBP (+21.1%), Milan MXP (+16.6%), Moscow VKO (+11.7%), Berlin TXL (+10.1%) and Porto (+9.8%)

Group 3: Krakow (+24.2%), Sevilla (+18.3%), Nantes (+16.7%), Bordeaux (+13.3%) and Bologna (+10.6%)

Group 4: Ohrid (+72.1%), Kutaisi (+41.6%), Zadar (+32.5%), Bucharest (+25.8%) and Turku (+22.6%)

In 2012, the average change was + 2.2 percent, of + 3.2 percent, + 5.0 percent and + 2.7 percent, and of more than 25 million passengers per year at airports (Group 1), of welcoming between 10 and 25 millions passengers in group 2 and of welcoming between five and 10 thousand passenger (Group 3).

In December 2019 (as opposed to December 2018), the airports with the largest rises in passenger transport are as follows:

Group 1: Vienna (+11.6%), Lisbon (+10.5%), Moscow DME (+8.1%), Istanbul SAW (+7.3%) and London LGW & Madrid (+6.7%)

Group 2: Budapest (+18%), Tel-Aviv (+15.1%), Milan BGY (+14.4%), Kyiv KBP (+12.6%) and Warsaw WAW (+11.7%)

Group 3: Krakow (+27.6%), Bordeaux (+17%), Malta (+14.7%), Belgrade (+14.1%) and Sochi (+13.4%)

Group 4: Ohrid (+116.1%), Zakynthos Island (+76.4%), Dubrovnik (+49.9%), Nis (+47.6%) and Kutaisi (+44.6%)

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