According to a report by Airports Council International (ACI), for the first time in eight years since 2006, passenger traffic at airports in EU countries grew by 5.6% in October, surpassing the 5.1% traffic increase recorded at airports in third countries such as Russia, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey or Iceland.
The main contributors to this growth were the large airports (those with over 25 million passengers), which together saw an average increase of 5% in the number of passengers in October. Among these airports are Rome (+ 10.4%), Barcelona-El Prat (+ 8%), the Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport (+ 7.9%) and London-Heathrow (+ 7.8%), compared with the 12.8% increase recorded in Istanbul, Turkey, the highest recorded among the countries outside the EU.
"Russian airports are experiencing a significant slowdown in passenger traffic with the increased risk of recession in the Russian economy due to the impact of sanctions arising from the crisis in Ukraine, structural problems, and falling oil prices," the Director General of ACI Europe, Olivier Jankovec explained.
The movement in EU airports grew 2.2% in October compared with the same month in 2013, the ACI adds, while cargo traffic recorded an increase of 3.1%, with an increase of 2.2% in the number of flights.
"At a time when Europe is desperate to boost growth and increase employment, the briskness of air traffic speaks volumes about the strategic importance of aviation to European economies," said Jankovec.
Along this line, he highlighted the particularly significant increase in passenger traffic recorded in Greece, Romania, Belgium, Ireland, Portugal and Lithuania.
In a second group (airports with 5 to 10 million passengers) there are notable increases in Athens (+ 28%), Brussels (+19.45), London-Stansted (+ 16.9%), Istanbul Sabina Gökçen (+ 15.7%) and Lisbon (+ 14.7%).
As for the smaller airports (with less than 5 million passengers), the largest increases were in Maribor (+79.5%) in Slovenia, in Mykonos (+ 51.5%) and Santorino (+ 42.3%) both in Greece, and Belgrade (+ 38.1%) and Ostrava (+ 30.5%) in the Czech Republic.