European airport trade body ACI EUROPE has published its latest report, showing passenger traffic up 28.3 per cent in the first half of 2023, compared to the same period last year.

Data also shows international traffic grew at twice the rate of domestic traffic during H1 (+32.2 per cent compared to +16.6 per cent).

But the pace of growth slowed from +49 per cent in the first quarter to +16.3 per cent in the second quarter, and passenger volumes were still down 7.7 per cent in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2019.

Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI EUROPE, said that while passenger traffic was “getting ever closer to a full recovery”, volumes remain below pre-pandemic levels at more than half of Europe’s airports, and he warned that “2023 is not 2019”.

“Apart from the lasting impact of the war in Ukraine on some markets, this is largely due to recovery patterns becoming structural,” said Jankovec.

“These include the impressive yet selective expansion of Ultra-Low Cost Carriers and relative retrenchment of Full Service Carriers along with the prominence of leisure and VFR1 demand as well as some domestic traffic shifting to other transport modes.

“So far, demand has remained extremely resilient in the face of lasting inflationary pressures and record increases in airfares since the beginning of the year. But, looking ahead and past the peak Summer months, we do see significant downside risks and much uncertainty.

“These include the prospect of deteriorating macroeconomics for the Eurozone and the UK as well as initial signals that discretionary spending might start decreasing and that pandemic‑savings buffers are exhausted.”

In June the International Air Transport Association (IATA) published its revised outlook forecasting that 4.35 billion individual people will fly in 2023, not far off the 4.54 billion people who took a flight in 2019.

Global passenger traffic surpassed 6.6 billion in 2022