European airport trade body, ACI Europe, has released its air traffic report for April 2024, revealing a surge in passenger traffic that almost reaches pre-pandemic levels.

Passenger traffic across the European airport network increased by 8.5 percent compared to April 2023, placing volumes just 0.2 percent below April 2019 levels. This therefore represents a near-complete recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.

London Heathrow (LHR remained the busiest European airport
London Heathrow (LHR remained the busiest European airport

The Non-EU+¹ Market

The non-EU+ market experienced a significant boost, with passenger traffic up by 13.4 percent compared to April 2023. Airports in Kazakhstan (+150%), Albania (+67%), Uzbekistan (+54%), and Türkiye (+19%) drove this growth.

Despite geopolitical challenges, including the loss of passenger traffic at Ukrainian airports and significant declines in Israel (-42%) and Russia (-22%), the non-EU+ market exceeded its April 2019 volumes by 5.6 percent. Leading in this comparison were Albania (+261%), Uzbekistan (+171%), Kazakhstan (+83%), and Armenia (+86%).

The EU+² Market

The EU+ market saw a 7.7 percent increase in passenger traffic compared to April 2023. Top performers included Estonia (+28%), the Czech Republic (+18%), Slovenia (+17%), and Poland (+17%). However, some countries, such as Sweden (-0.1%), Ireland (+0.6%), Latvia (+1.8%), and Portugal (+2.4%) fell behind.

The EU+ market came close to full recovery, standing at just 1.1 percent below April 2019 levels.

Airports in leisure and VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) markets like Greece (+21.7%), Croatia (+20.9%), Poland (+20.3%), Malta (+18.5%), Iceland (+17.2%), Luxembourg (+17%), and Portugal (+13.6%) saw substantial gains.

Conversely, Finland (-30.6%), Slovenia (-29.5%), Slovakia (-24.1%), and Sweden (-23.6%) remained furthest from pre-pandemic volumes.

Among the largest EU+ markets, Italy (+13.9%) and Spain (+10.8%) exceeded their pre-pandemic volumes, while the UK (-3.9%), France (-6.9%), and Germany (-19.2%) did not recover as strongly.

Variations Across Airport Categories

Major airports (>40 million passengers per annum) experienced an 8.6 percent increase in passenger traffic compared to April 2023 and were just 1.6 percent below April 2019 levels.

Mega and Large airports (10 to 40 million passengers per annum) also saw significant increases, with Antalya (+58% vs. April 2023), Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen (+20.6%), Prague (+17.3%), Munich (+17.1%), Athens (+16.2%), and Budapest (+16%) leading the way.

Medium airports (1 to 10 million passengers per annum) recorded the best performance compared to April 2019 levels at +9.4 percent.

In contrast, small airports (<1 million passengers per year) posted the weakest performance, with a 4.4 percent increase in passenger traffic compared to April 2023, remaining 31.5 percent below April 2019 levels.

Freight and Aircraft Movements

Freight traffic across the European airport network increased by 12.4 percent over April 2023, standing 2.5 percent above April 2019 levels. Top performers in freight included Istanbul (+42.7%), Madrid (+18.2%), Milan-MXP (+15.1%), Liège (+14.2%), and Frankfurt (+11.6%).

Aircraft movements increased by 7.4 percent in April compared to April 2023, remaining 4.1 percent below April 2019 levels.


¹ Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Türkiye, Ukraine and Uzbekistan 

² EU countries, as well as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and UK

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