The easing of Omicron-related restrictions for travel within Europe in March helped fuel exponential airline passenger growth, latest figures show.
European airport trade body ACI Europe reported passenger volumes rising by almost 250% in the first half of the year over the same period in 2021.
This resulted in airports across the continent handling an additional 660 million passengers, although the overall total remained more than a quarter down on pre-pandemic levels.
Airports in the UK saw a rise of 833% year-on-year and those in Ireland by 1,125%.
The overall increase was mainly driven by international traffic (+381.2%) rather than domestic travel (+88.5%) and was also concentrated in the second quarter (+245.9%).
The busiest airports in June were led by Istanbul followed by Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Schiphol, although passenger volumes remained 17% down on the same month in pre-pandemic 2019 reflecting continued travel restrictions in China and other parts of Asia.
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 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.”