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Despite Signs of Slow-Down, Some European Airports Outperform Peers and Iceland is Hot-Hot

  • Airports
  • 5 min read

European airport trade body, ACI EUROPE has released its airport traffic report for June, Q2 and for the first half of 2016 (H1), showing traffic in the EU during H1 grew by 6.2%.

However, some European airports at popular destinations performed better than their peers, and Iceland’s Keflavik airport proved that all those stopover campaigns by Icelandair and WOW air are paying off.

Dynamics varied between EU countries. The core markets of France, Germany and Italy underperformed the EU average, but Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania and Spain all achieved double digit growth.

The pace of growth diminished between the first and the second quarter from +8.2% to +4.8%. This slowdown affected almost all EU markets and was especially marked in Belgium in the wake of the Brussels terrorist attacks.

Most of the growth was concentrated on secondary hubs & large to mid-sized airports.

  • Berlin-Schonefeld (+39.4%)
  • Cologne-Bonn (+19.8%)
  • Bucharest (+16.5%)
  • Dublin (+13.4%)
  • Barcelona (+12.7%)
  • Birmingham (+12.6%)
  • Budapest (+11.9%)
  • Copenhagen (+10.9%)

Among the Top 5 busiest EU airports, traffic growth at London-Heathrow, Paris CDG and Frankfurt stalled. However, Amsterdam-Schiphol (+9.9%) and Madrid (+8.6%) reported increases.

ACI EUROPE attributes this to Low Cost Carriers as the main drivers of traffic expansion and airport capacity constraints at EU airports.

Leisure Travel Proves Resilient

EU airports serving leisure destinations also fared well, as European leisure destinations benefited from a demand shift away from North Africa and Turkey.

  • Bourgas (+25.2%)
  • Varna (+24.3%)
  • Larnaca (+20.8%)
  • Faro (+18.6%)
  • Santorini (+17.9%)
  • Ibiza (+17%)
  • Alicante (+16.1%)
  • Dubrovnik (+15.2%)
  • Malaga (+14.6%)
  • Funchal (+14%)
  • Chania (+14.5%)
  • Gran Canaria (+14.2%)
  • Palma de Mallorca (+11.2%)
  • Malta (+10.2%)

Non-EU Growth Stagnant

Passenger traffic at airports which in the non-EU bloc was almost flat at +0.5%, driven by significant losses in Turkey and Russia.

During the second quarter these loses brought non-EU passenger traffic down by -3.2%, and by June the situation had worsened to -6.9%.

Iceland, however, reported unprecedented growth. Traffic at Keflavik airport increased by +34.3%.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI EUROPE warned of potential slowdowns to follow.

“Beyond an overall healthy traffic performance at pan-European level for the first 6 months of the year, these figures reveal a severe slump in passenger demand in the Non-EU bloc affecting mainly Turkey and Russia – as well as a significant growth deceleration in the EU market,” he said.

“In both cases, these worrying trends are due to the impact of terrorism and accrued geopolitical instability. Since these traffic figures do not yet reflect the full impact of the Istanbul-Atatürk airport terrorist attack and the failed coup in Turkey, we expect a further worsening of airport traffic performance over the summer and for the remainder of the year.

“EU airports are also likely to see a continued softening of passenger traffic on the back of lower consumer confidence fuelled by terrorism and the decision of the UK to leave the EU, as well as major full service airlines reining in capacity.
The only positive remains the price of oil – which should help limit the extent of capacity cuts and keep low cost carriers in expansion mode”.

The airports which reported the highest increases in passenger traffic during H1 follow:



Airports grouped by passenger traffic: 25 million passengers per year (Group 1), between 10 and 25 million passengers (Group 2), between 5 and 10 million passengers (Group 3) and less than 5 million passengers per year (Group 4)

GROUP 1: Dublin (+13.4%), Barcelona (+12.7%), Istanbul SAW (+12.0%), Copenhagen (+10.9%) and Amsterdam (+9.9%)

GROUP 2: Cologne-Bonn (+19.8%), Alicante (+16.1%), Malaga (+14.6%), Gran Canaria (+14.2%) and Birmingham (+12.6%)

GROUP 3: Berlin SXF (+39.4%), Larnaca (+20.8%), Faro (+18.5%), Ibiza (+17.0%) and Bucharest OTP (+16.5%)

GROUP 4: Oradea (+283.4%), Liege (+170.9%), Ostend (+127.5%), Iasi (+115.2%) and Ohrid (+82.7%)

For June, the airports which reported the highest increases in passenger traffic were:


GROUP 1: Barcelona (+10.0%), Dublin (+9.6%), Copenhagen (+8.9%), London LGW (+8.5%) and Amsterdam (+7.9%)

GROUP 2: Gran Canaria (+22.3%), Alicante (+15.8%), Malaga (+14.2%), Birmingham (+13.2%) and Cologne-Bonn (+12.5%)

GROUP 3: Berlin SXF (+31.8%), Larnaca (+22.9%), Tenerife TFS (+18.6%), Kiev (+16.5%) and Faro (+16.3%)

GROUP 4: Oradea (+3,266.7%), Bucharest BBU (+213.7%), Iasi (+111.0%), Palanga (+68.3%) and Chambery (+55.3%)

The ‘ACI EUROPE Airport Traffic Report – June, Q2 & H1 2016’ includes 215 airports in total representing more than 88% of European air passenger traffic. It includes all types of civil aviation passenger flights: full service, low cost and charter.

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