Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) has revealed that passenger numbers at airports across the continent jumped 247% year-on-year (YOY) in H1 2022, which is an additional 660 million passengers.
The surge was largely due to international traffic which recorded a 381.2% growth while domestic traffic increased 88.5%.
Passenger volume particularly soared in Q2 as Omicron-related curbs in Europe and other external markets were relaxed.
European airport traffic in June this year was 17.4% lower than the pre-pandemic levels in June 2019. However, it is still said to be the strongest monthly performance since February 2020.
Overall, airports across the EU+ market reported a 348.9% surge in H1 2022 traffic to 635 million from 140 million in the prior year.
The UK, Ireland, Slovakia, Hungary and Denmark recorded a significant rise in passenger footfall.
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However, other airports across the rest of Europe reported a moderate growth of 58.3%in H1.
ACI Europe added that the airports located in the markets with less tough restrictions were able to rebound earlier than the EU+ market.
Airports in Greece and Luxembourg relying heavily on tourism completely recovered their pre-pandemic (2019) passenger traffic in June.
Additionally, airports in Portugal, Lithuania and Norway came close to a full recovery.
The airport trade body also said that the performance in the non-EU+ market was hit by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with sanctions impacting airports in Russia and Belarus.
It added that airports in Ukraine have lost all passenger footfall.
The Ukraine conflict has also impacted the dynamic recovery of airports in Slovenia, Finland, Bulgaria, Czechia and Latvia.
In H1 2022, freight traffic across the European airport network was 0.8% lower than the year-ago period.
However, aircraft movements increased 127.9% in the first half of the year and 84.1% in June compared to last year.
ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said: “These numbers speak for themselves. If Covid-19 caused an unprecedented collapse in passenger traffic for Europe’s airports, the rebound we have experienced this Spring – especially in the EU+ market – is equally extraordinary.
“The fact that volumes across the continent still remained ‑28.3% below pre-pandemic levels for the first half of the year should not eclipse the sheer and unprecedented unleashing of pent-up demand that has occurred since March.”