Airports Council International (ACI) Europe has published its air traffic report for June 2020, Quarter 2 (Q2) and the First Half (H1) of 2020, as well as an interim update for July 2020. The report reveals the devastating impact of the COVID-19 on Europe’s airports, with passenger traffic decreasing by 64.2 per cent during the first half of 2020 and almost coming to complete standstill in the second quarter, with a drop of 96.4 per cent, compared to the same period in 2019.  

Europe’s airport rankings have been heavily disrupted

During the month of June 2020 – which saw passenger traffic across the European airport network falling by 93.2 per cent

  1. Moscow Domodedovo Airport (DME) 716,800 passengers , a decrease of 73.3 per cent, compared to 2019.
  2. Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) 625,900 passengers, representing a fall of 90.9 per cent.
  3. Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) 622,800 passengers, representing a fall of 86.5 per cent.
  4. Frankfurt Airport (FRA) 599,200 passengers, representing a fall of 90.9 per cent.
  5. Istanbul Airport (IGA) 591,000 passengers, representing a fall of 90.1 per cent.
  6. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) 471,800 passengers a decline of 92.7 per cent.
  7. London Heathrow Airport (LHR) 350,700 passengers, compared to 7.24 million in June 2019 a decline of 95.2 per cent. 

Following the tentative coordination of the lifting of travel restrictions at the EU level as of mid-June 2020, the traffic recovery has been slower than expected. As a result, passenger traffic across the European airport network still declined by 78 per cent in July 2020, compared to the same month in 2019. This translated into an additional 208 million passengers lost, bringing the total passenger loss since the start of the year to 969 million

Since the last few weeks of July 2020, the pace of the recovery has further slowed down. This is due to several states re-imposing travel restrictions – in particular, the abrupt decision by the UK government to require travellers from Spain to quarantine upon entry to the UK. 

The recovery is far too slow-paced and uncertain. Despite desperate efforts to trim down their costs, Europe’s airports are burning cash. Revenues are weak because of the combination of low volumes with rebates and incentives to airlines to attract and incentivise air traffic. Considering the seasonality of demand, this does not bode well for the coming months. If the recovery does not accelerate significantly, many airports will simply run out of money.

ACI EUROPE, together with the national airport associations of Germany (ADV), France (UAF & FA) and Italy (Assaeroporti), called on governments and the EU to address imbalances and safeguard the proper functioning of the Single Aviation Market by using all other instruments available for that purpose. This should include:

  • Allowing airports to benefit from temporary unemployment schemes under the most favourable conditions and beyond the Summer months. This is crucial to contain permanent layoffs and retain skilled staff.
  • Granting financial compensation to airports for the costs involved in remaining open when travel restrictions eliminated demand for air transport as well as for the costs involved in implementing sanitary measures.
  • Ensuring the timely return of slots not used by airlines, so as to allow airports to limit costs by effectively adjusting resources and staffing to the actual level of airline operations. This would also allow the timely reallocation of unused slots to other airlines – thus benefitting air connectivity.
  • Ensuring that charges paid by airlines for the use of airport facilities better reflect underlying costs as per the “user pays” principle advocated by the European Commission for transport infrastructure. In particular, under-recovered costs must be carried forward into future regulatory periods.
    Airline dominance is set to become the norm in the post-COVID-19 aviation market, as already evidenced by the way prominent airlines are conditioning the restart of their operations to either free use or massive discounts on airport charges. The revision of the EU Airport Charges Directive does not take this new reality into consideration and needs to be reconsidered to avoid further imbalances in the air transport ecosystem.
  • Ensuring further liberalisation of air traffic rights (in particular at niche, secondary hubs and regional airports) and relaxation of airlines’ ownership and control rules to facilitate the restoration and development of air connectivity.

8 June 2020

1 532.5 million passengers were lost by Europe’s airports between 1 January and 31 May.

2 €9 billion to Lufthansa / €7 billion to Air France / €3.3 billion to alitalia

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