Passenger traffic across the European airport network has grown by 98% in 2022, according to data from Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe).

During the year, airports recorded 1.94 billion passengers, which is nearly double the number of passengers it served compared to last year but is still below 21% against the pre-pandemic (2019) period.

The data from ACI Europe also revealed that only 27% of Europe’s airports recovered their pre-pandemic (2019) passenger volumes in 2022.

ACI also said that 90% of the airports that have fully recovered their 2019 volumes are smaller and regional sites.

The five busiest airports in Europe, dubbed the Majors, recorded a 114% traffic growth last year but fell 22.6% short of 2019 levels.

With 64.3 million passengers in 2022, Istanbul remained the busiest European airport during the year followed by London Heathrow and Paris-CDG airports, which served 61.6 million and 57.5 million passengers respectively.

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Amsterdam-Schiphol recorded 52.5 million passengers while Madrid served 50.6 million passengers over the year.

Trapani and Oradea were among the best-performing regional airports with traffic growth of 117%, followed by Perugia, which reported 68.5% growth.

ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said: “The surge in passenger traffic last year has been phenomenal. Kicking off in early spring when most travel restrictions were finally lifted, it boomed over the summer and remained resilient afterwards.

“All of this despite geopolitical shocks, deteriorating macro-economics, fast-rising airfares and Covid still being with us. If anything, 2022 has been the year in which we finally learned how to live and travel with Covid-19.

“This is not yet a full recovery. Europe’s airports were still short 500 million passengers in 2022 compared to where they stood before the pandemic hit. And there were significant gaps in traffic performance between hubs and smaller regional airports, as well as across national markets.”