Passenger traffic growth at European airports moderated to 5 per cent in the third quarter of the year, figures from airport trade body ACI Europe show.

That was down from year-on-year growth of 6 per cent in Q2 and 9 per cent in Q1. 

The stats for the busy summer season show passenger growth is “robust, but diminishing”, said Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe.

Jankovec attributed the slowdown to factors including airport capacity, industrial unrest, rising oil prices and airline consolidation.

EU members grew passenger numbers by 4.6 per cent in Q3 while non-EU members grew them by 6.5 per cent. However non-EU members saw a bigger drop between June and September. 

Airports in Athens, Vienna, Milan, Warsaw, Budapest, Malta, Luxembourg, Bratislava and Tallinn all saw double-digit growth.

Sweden (down 0.1 per cent), the UK (up 1.5 per cent) and the Netherlands (up 1.8 per cent) posted the weakest results.

Smaller airports with below five million passengers a year outperformed the European average, with passenger traffic increasing by 6.7 per cent.

Growth at the top five European airports capped at 3.3 per cent. 

Moscow, Tel Aviv, Kiev, Keflavik, Tbilisi, Tirana, Skopje and Podgorica had among the strongest growth.

Growth at Turkish airports was just 0.4 per cent year-on-year for September, which ACI Europe attributed to the country’s difficult economic situation impacting demand for air travel.

The report includes all types of civil aviation passenger flights – full service, low cost and charter. 

Jankovec commented: “The peak summer months show that the momentum in traffic growth is robust, but diminishing. Airport capacity issues, industrial unrest, rising oil prices and airline consolidation are putting the brakes on more gains. Aviation taxes and economic slowdowns have also come to take their toll – as evidenced by stalling air traffic growth in Sweden and Turkey.”

Addressing ongoing discussions between the UK and the European Union over the country’s departure, Jankovec said: “Looking at the coming months, Brexit risks have somewhat receded following [the] European Council announcement of its contingency measures in case negotiations with the UK fail.

“The fact that the EC has formally clarified that it will propose measures to ensure undisrupted air connectivity between the EU27 and the UK after March 2019 is indeed a relief. With the UK having already taken a similar position, this means that consumers can now have confidence over existing and future bookings for travel between the EU27 and the UK next year.

“However, the EC announcement makes it clear that these contingency measures would only apply until December 2019. That still leaves a big question mark as to what would happen beyond that date if the no-deal scenario materialises.”

The airports with the highest increases in passenger traffic during Q3 were:

GROUP 1 (more than 25 million passengers per year):

  1. Moscow SVO (+14.3 per cent)
  2. Madrid (+8.6 per cent)
  3. London STN (+8.2 per cent)
  4. Istanbul SAW (+7.5 per cent)
  5. Frankfurt (+7.3 per cent)

GROUP 2 (10 – 25 million passengers):

  1. Moscow VKO (+17.5 per cent)
  2. Kiev (+16.6 per cent)
  3. Budapest (13.6 per cent)
  4. Warsaw & Athens (+12 per cent)
  5. Venice (+11 per cent)

GROUP 3 (5 – 10 million passengers):

  1. Seville (+23.3 per cent)
  2. Palermo (+15.3 per cent)
  3. Riga (+14.8 per cent)
  4. Krakow (+13.5 per cent)
  5. Sochi (+12.2 per cent)

GROUP 4 (less than 5 million passengers)

  1. Targu Mures (+9547 per cent)
  2. Taranto (+155.2 per cent)
  3. Vilnius (+107.9 per cent)
  4. Sibiu (+58.9 per cent)
  5. Kutaisi (+53 per cent)