European airports saw passenger numbers soar 9% year on year in the first six months of 2017.

Airports group ACI-Europe hailed the figures as the best half-year performance in more than a decade, as it reported passenger numbers have grown almost 30% since 2012.

However, the association warned of a “looming capacity crunch” and said: “Brexit remains the number one worry.”

It suggested: “If no progress is achieved in coming months, we are likely to see negative impacts on aviation next year.”

EU airports reported average growth in passenger traffic of 9.9% in the first half of the year, against 8.7% in European markets outside the EU.

Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary all saw double-digit growth.

But the busiest airports also grew. London Heathrow reported 3.9% more passengers year on year in the six months to June.

Amsterdam Schiphol recorded growth of 8.7%, Paris Charles de Gaulle 5.2% and Frankfurt 4.5%.
Of the five largest airports, only Istanbul Ataturk saw a decline, of 1.1%.

Secondary hubs and medium-sized airports saw much greater growth. St Petersburg saw growth of 26%, Kiev 29%, Antalya 29%, Warsaw 25%, Brussels 23%, Lisbon 22.%, Prague 21%, Naples 20.%, Porto and Faro (both 18%, Berlin-Schoenefeld 17%, Birmingham 16% and Milan-Malpensa 15%.

The figures reflect traffic across all airlines, full service and low cost, and scheduled and charter.

ACI-Europe attributed the growth to “a mix of one-off and structural factors.

“These include markets affected by terrorism last year bouncing back, the return of strong passenger demand in Russia and to a lesser extent in Turkey, continued improvement in the economy and oil prices consistently below $55 per barrel.”

Olivier Jankovec, ACI-Europe director general, said: “This is by far the best first half-year traffic performance in more than 10 years, and it comes on top of significant growth.

“This growth has clearly outstripped the most-optimistic forecasts – something that should be borne in mind by anyone who doubts the looming airport capacity crunch facing Europe.”

However, Jankovec warned: “Brexit remains the number one worry for many airport CEOs – given the continued uncertainty surrounding negotiations.

“The countdown to March 2019 keeps ticking and if no progress is achieved in the coming months, we are likely to see negative impacts on aviation kick in already next year.”


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