ACI EUROPE has reported that European airports lost nearly 1.72 billion passengers in 2020 compared with 2019, indicating a decrease of -70.4%.

While hubs in Turkey and Russia performed better comparatively, Europe’s airport traffic dropped down to 1995 levels last year.

ACI EUROPE director general Olivier Jankovec said: “With just 728 million passengers in 2020 compared to 2.4 billion passengers in the previous year, Europe’s airports were back to their traffic levels of 1995. No industry can on its own withstand such a shock. While some states have taken steps to financially support their airports, only €2.2bn has so far been earmarked for that purpose in Europe. This is less than 8% of the revenues airports lost last year.

“With further decreases in traffic over the past weeks and no recovery in sight, more needs to be done. Helping out airports is essential to rebuild air connectivity and effectively support local and regional communities and tourism. It is also critical to restore airports’ investment capabilities for the future. Without more financial support, investments in decarbonisation, digitalisation and SESAR are at risk.”

ACI pointed out that airports within the European Union endured greater impact than those outside the bloc, primarily due to the size and relative resilience of domestic markets in Turkey and Russia, along with fewer travel and lockdown restrictions.

Among the major air hubs, Frankfurt took the hardest hit in passenger traffic, down by 73%, closely followed by London Heathrow, Amsterdam-Schipol and Paris Charles de Gaulle.

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In the last quarter of 2020, Istanbul had turned into the busiest European airport, followed by Istanbul-Sabiha Gocken and Moscow-Sheremetyevo.

EU airports witnessed a dip of around 84% in passenger traffic in Q4, compared to a 64% drop at non-EU airports.

Similarly, Spain’s airport operator Aena reported that its airports handled nearly 2,814,424 passengers in January, 83.4% less than in the same month in 2019.

Out of these passengers recorded in January, nearly 1,236,326 travelled on international flights, 88.7% less than in January 2020, and 1,544,509 on domestic flights, down by 74%.

In addition, passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport also dropped by 70% to 25.9 million last year.

The airport managed nearly 183,993 flights in 2020, down by 51.4%, while the average number of passengers per flight fell by 20.3% to 188.