Passenger traffic maintains course & freight traffic stalls during August, says ACI Europe

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European airport trade association ACI EUROPE today releases its traffic report for August 2018, during which average passenger traffic in geographical Europe expanded by +5.1% compared with the same month last year. While this slightly higher than in July (+4.8%), August confirmed a growth deceleration at Europe’s airports when compared to H1 (+6.7%).

Passenger traffic at non-EU airports increased by +6.7% – almost the same rate as in July (+6.8%). These airports accounted for the bulk of the growth deceleration (down from +10.5% in H1). Turkish airports in particular saw passenger traffic growth further weakening at +5% (+7.2% in July) – a reflection of the country’s economic woes. Meanwhile, airports in Albania, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, FYROM, Georgia, Iceland, Montenegro, and Ukraine all achieved double-digit growth.

At EU airports, passenger traffic grew by +4.6% in August, slightly upward from July (+4.3%). As in previous months, airports in the Eastern part of the bloc registered double-digit growth (with the Baltic States, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia achieving the best performance) – along with Luxembourg and Austria, with the latter enjoying the benefits of increased Low Cost Carrier penetration (Vienna: +11.9%). Passenger traffic also remained very dynamic in Greece (Athens: +13.4%) and Malta (+9.6%). Conversely, airports in Sweden posted the weakest performance (combined impact of the recently imposed national aviation tax and the sharp depreciation of the local currency) along with UK airports (possibly of reflection of subdued consumer & business confidence in the context of Brexit).

The Majors (top 5 European airports) saw passenger traffic underperform the European average at +3.3% due to nearly flat results at Istanbul-Ataturk (+0.5%) and capacity constraints severely limiting growth at Amsterdam-Schiphol (+0.7% – N.3) and London-Heathrow (+2.6% – N.1). Frankfurt continued to lead the league (+8.1% – N.4), followed by Paris-CDG (+4.5% – N.2).

Smaller airports (less than 5 million passengers per annum) outperformed the European average, with passenger volumes expanding by +6.6%. Accordingly, (in addition to those mentioned below) the following airports did particularly well: Kutaisi (+44.1%), Memmingerberg (+30.9%), Linz (+29.3%), Ostrava (+24.7%), Rostov (+22.3%), Wroclaw (+22.2%), Brno (+20.5%), Graz (+19.3%), Bodrum (+18.1%), Bastia (+15.5%), Genova (+26.2%), Tenerife-North (+15.5%), Ohrid (+16.7%), Ostend (+16.6%), Podgorica (+15.8%), Brastislava (+15%) and Tirana (+14.6%).

In a stark contrast with passenger traffic, freight traffic stalled in August at +0.3% – its worst monthly performance since March 2016. This was entirely attributable to the non-EU market (-3.4%), although freight traffic only marginally expanded in the EU (+1%).

Amongst the top 10 European airports for freight traffic, the highest increases were achieved by Liège (+33.3% – N.8), Brussels (+7.7% – N.10) and Leipzig-Halle (+2.7%). Istanbul-Ataturk (-8.2% – N.6), Luxembourg (-5.1% – N.7) and Paris-CDG (-3% – N.2) registered the weakest performance.

Aircraft movements were up +3.7% – increasing by +3.4% in the EU market and by +4.5% in the non-EU bloc.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE commented: “These figures show how demand for air transport has generally remained dynamic despite increasing economic and geopolitical uncertainties in Europe and beyond. While Low-Cost Carriers generally continue to stimulate demand, there is no escaping these uncertainties. Higher oil prices are also starting to weigh on air traffic performance. For now, all eyes are on the Brexit negotiations – not just because of the potential disruptions a no-deal outcome would have on air connectivity, but for the wider economic consequences that would inevitably follow.”

During the month of August, airports welcoming more than 25 million passengers per year (Group 1), airports welcoming between 10 and 25 million passengers (Group 2), airports welcoming between 5 and 10 million passengers (Group 3) and airports welcoming less than 5 million passengers per year (Group 4) reported an average adjustment +4.4%, +5.8%, +4.8% and +6.6%.

The airports that reported the highest increases in passenger traffic during August 2018 (compared with August 2017) are as follows:

GROUP 1: Moscow SVO (+15.2%), Antalya AYT (+14.3%), Madrid (+8.8%), Istanbul SAW (+8.5%), and London STN (+8.4%)
GROUP 2: Moscow VKO (+17.8%), Kiev (+16.4%), Budapest (+14.9%), Athens (+13.4%) and Venice & Warsaw (+12.5%)
GROUP 3: Seville (+22.3%), Eindhoven (+18.1%), Palermo (+15.8%), Krakow (+15.1%) and Riga (+14.2%)
GROUP 4: Targu-Mures (+6,269.4%), Vilnius (+240.1%), Mosjoen (+87.7%), Sibiu (+63.3%) and Poznan (+44.9%)

The ACI EUROPE Airport Traffic Report – August 2018 includes 240 airports in total representing more than 88% of European air passenger traffic. ACI EUROPE’s monthly Airport Traffic Report is unique in that it is the only one to include all types of airline passenger flights to, from and within Europe: full service, low cost, charter and others.

Brussels, 11 October 2018

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