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Airport operators association ACI EUROPE has published its latest figures for traffic at European airports, showing continued recovery across both domestic and international routes.

Passenger traffic across the European airport network increased by 69 per cent in January compared to the same period in 2022, with international passenger traffic up by 85 per cent.

January’s traffic was just 11 per cent down on the same month in 2019, which ACI said was “the best monthly performance and thus closest to a full recovery since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Just over four in ten European airports (42 per cent) have now recovered pre-pandemic traffic volumes, with Istanbul airport being the busiest hub in January, welcoming 5.64 million passengers, followed by Heathrow (5.49 million), Paris CDG (4.72 million) Madrid (4.43 million), and Amsterdam Schiphol (3.9 million).

Among group 1 airports (those welcoming more than 25 million passengers per year), London Stansted saw the largest percentage rise in passenger traffic in January 2023 compared with the same month in 2022 (up 173.9 per cent), followed by Gatwick (up 170.6 per cent), Rome Fiumicino (up 143.1 per cent), Manchester (up 119.1 per cent) and Dublin (up 113.5 per cent).

Commenting on the news Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE, said:

“2023 is off to a pretty good start thanks to the continued resilience of passenger demand in the face of higher air fares and wider inflationary pressures across the economy.

“42 per cent of Europe’s airports have now recovered their pre-pandemic traffic volumes and while there are significant performance variations across markets, we expect more to hit the same milestone in the coming months.

“Continued capacity expansion by ultra-Low Cost Carriers and the recent lifting of pre-departure testing requirements for travellers from China should keep driving the recovery forward for airports.”

“For now, our immediate focus is on getting ready for the peak Summer season. Europe’s airports have stepped up preparedness plans.

“In doing so, they have reached out to all their operational partners – airlines, ground handlers, border control forces and Air Traffic Control – to identify possible risks and stress points, in particular as regards staffing levels, and to devise mitigation measures.

“By and large, the aviation system capacity on the ground should cope with demand – and capacity limitations will remain the exception.”