Passenger traffic at European airports declined 1.6% during January 2013, compared to the corresponding month in 2012, according to a new report from Airports Council International (ACI) Europe.
During January, European Union (EU) airports reported a 3.8% drop in passenger traffic, while non-EU airports registered a 6.8% growth over same period 2012.
Aircraft movements at EU airports declined 4.8%, which was mainly due to the impact of a severe winter in several European countries towards the end of January.
European airports reported 1.9% rise in freight traffic in January, reflecting a partial recovery from the very low freight traffic reported during corresponding period in 2012, while the overall freight traffic dropped over 2011 levels.
ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said that January was a difficult start to the year for many airports in Europe, especially in the EU market where nearly 80% of airports saw their passenger traffic declining.
"Even most of the usually resilient EU hubs lost traffic, while the recession at regional airports is getting nasty. On the face of it, this is looking like another 2009-style dip," Jankovec said.
"Apart from the continued dynamism of non-EU markets mainly led by Turkey and Russia, the relative improvement in freight traffic is a welcome signal.
"It is consistent with suggestions that GDP in the EU is now bottoming out, with external demand expected to lead a pick-up in economic activity in the months ahead."
ACI is anticipating a rise in passenger traffic towards the end of the 2013 over growth in domestic demand.
European airports with passenger handling capacity of over 25 million per year (group 1), including Istanbul IST, Moscow DME, Moscow SVO and London LHR, collectively reported a 0.9% decline in passenger traffic during January 2013.
During the month, airports with a passenger handling capacity of ten to 25 million (group 2), including Istanbul SAW, St Petersburg, Berlin TXL, Nice and Manchester, reported a 0.7% drop in traffic when compared to corresponding period in 2012.
Passenger traffic at airports that can handle between five million and ten million passengers per year (group 3), including Bucharest, Warsaw WAW, Izmir, Ankara, Charleroi, rose 1.5% during the period.
Airports serving passenger traffic of less than 5 million each year (group 4), such as Arad, Chita, Vilnius, Ostend and Vatry reported a 6.6% decline in passenger traffic in January 2013 when compared to the corresponding month in 2012.
Image: London Heathrow Airport in the UK reported 0.3% rise in passenger traffic in January 2013.