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Sweden’s airports enjoy strong recovery in 2022


Despite a weak start to the year due to the Omicron variant and other global concerns, Sweden’s airports welcomed nearly 28 million passengers in 2022 – a 130% increase on the 12 million that passed through the country’s gateways in 2021.

According to the Swedish airport operator Swedavia, 2022 ended on a strong note, especially at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, which in December posted its best passenger numbers for a single month since the start of the pandemic.

Luleå Airport had the best performance for the month, with passenger volumes there exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Swedavia notes that the economy, the pandemic situation and other external factors have so far not affected demand to any great extent, but contribute to an uncertain market outlook going forward.

“In many respects, 2022 was an exceptional year for both Swedavia and the aviation industry in general, but it was dominated in particular by the sharp recovery and people’s longing to travel again after the lengthy pandemic,” commented Swedavia’s president and CEO, Jonas Abrahamsson.

“In many cases, only air travel can enable people to meet in real life, no matter whether it is to see family and friends or for their work. After a weak start to the year, we saw a sharp increase in passengers during the spring and a strong summer. Since then, demand has been strong despite the global situation and the economy.

“Although growth has been strong and we doubled passenger volumes within a short period of time during the past year, on the whole we are still greatly affected by the effects of the pandemic.”

The upward passenger trend in 2022 was mostly driven by strong demand for international flights at Stockholm Arlanda. More than 20 million people flew internationally, mainly to and from European destinations. In December alone, there were nearly 2.3 million passengers, an increase of over 40% compared to 2021 and nearly 80% of the volumes in 2019.

“The passenger trend for the year was characterised not only by pent-up demand but also by the major investments our airline customers have made in the Swedish market in the start-up after the pandemic,” noted Abrahamsson.

“That is the case especially at Arlanda, where we have had a number of airlines set up new operations as well as continued investments in new destinations and routes from both new and existing airline customers. This is a sign of strength, and we see that new launches will also continue in the new year.

“Factors such as the economy and the pandemic situation so far have not affected demand to any great extent, but contribute to great uncertainty about the demand for flights in the year ahead. However, I remain optimistic about underlying demand in the long term and that during the year Swedavia will continue to enhance connectivity to and from Sweden.”

Swedavia’s airports served 309 destinations in 2022, which means that a large share of the loss of destinations as a result of the pandemic has been recovered, especially at Arlanda.

The number of destinations on offer corresponds to over 80% of the total before the pandemic in 2019, while Arlanda has more than 90% of the pre-pandemic number of destinations in 2019. In 2022, Arlanda added nearly 50 new destinations.

A number of Swedavia’s regional airports were also able to enhance connectivity during the year. Luleå Airport in particular expanded international connectivity, with three new direct international routes launched in December, including to London and Paris.

New routes in January this year are Valencia with Ryanair, Innsbruck with Eurowings, and Lyon with Norwegian. All of these routes are from Stockholm Arlanda. Later this spring, SAS will launch non-stop services to New York from Göteborg Landvetter, while Air Serbia will launch non-stop services to Belgrade.

Stockholm Arlanda Airport had more than 18 million passengers for the full-year 2022, an increase of nearly 150%  compared to 2021 and nearly 75% of its pre-pandemic-volume in 2019. In December alone, there were 1.5 million passengers, an increase of nearly 50% compared to 2021 and nearly 85% of passenger volumes in 2019.

London was the top international destination in December at Arlanda, followed by Copenhagen and Oslo, while Copenhagen was the top destination for the year. Among non-European destinations, Chicago had the strongest growth, followed by New York.

Göteborg Landvetter Airport had a total of more than 4.4 million passengers in 2022, an increase of over 130% compared to 2021 and nearly 70% of the volume in 2019. In December, the airport had nearly 340,000 passengers, an increase of nearly 40% compared to 2021.

The top international destinations for the year were Frankfurt and Amsterdam, while London was the top destination during the month of December. Copenhagen had the strongest growth during the year, followed by London, Munich and Oslo.

Malmö Airport had nearly 1.3 million passengers in 2022, numbers nearly doubling compared to 2021. In December, the airport had nearly 100,000 passengers, an increase of nearly 20% compared to 2021 and about 70% of passenger volumes in 2019.

The air travel trend at Swedavia’s six regional airports varied in 2022. In 2022, Luleå Airport continued to have the strongest growth among the regional airports. With nearly 90,000 passengers in December, the airport had higher volume than before the pandemic in 2019.

Since the start of the pandemic 34 months ago, Swedavia has lost 72 million passengers compared to the 34 months before the pandemic.

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