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Traffic levels at Europe’s airports bouncing back from pandemic


Airports across Europe continue to announce their annual traffic figures for 2022, the bulk of which are reporting a significant upturn in passenger numbers and routes as aviation’s recovery from the pandemic gathered momentum.

Munch Airport, for example, reveals that it handled 31.6 million passengers in 2022 – 19 million more the previous year as aircraft movements nearly doubled compared to 2021.

The figures mean that the airport has regained two-thirds of its record-breaking pre-pandemic passenger levels and now serves a total of 210 destinations in 63 countries.

“The gradual lifting of travel restrictions has re-awakened people’s desire to travel. This has prompted airlines to significantly expand their flight capacity. The bookings received by the airlines indicate that traffic growth at Munich Airport will continue in 2023,” enthused CEO, Jost Lammers.

Elsewhere in Europe, in the UK, London Luton Airport has announced that it handled 13.1 million passengers in 2022 (+186.5%) and enjoyed its busiest ever Christmas Day when it welcomed over 12,000 departing passengers.

Alberto Martin, CEO of London Luton Airport (LLA), commented: “It has been an extremely exciting 12 months for London Luton Airport. Our teams have worked incredibly hard to deliver a consistently smooth and friendly passenger experience and this was reflected in the overwhelmingly positive customer satisfaction results that were achieved over 2022.

“Our focus now is to maintain our strong operational performance this year, as look forward to celebrating LLA’s 85th birthday and the landmark opening of the DART [Direct Rail Air Transit] service, reaffirming our continued commitment to growing responsibly and sustainably.”

DART is expected to reduce journey times between the airport and more than 60 stations across the Thameslink and East Midlands Rail networks, including 22 stations in Greater London. Passengers travelling to the terminal from London St Pancras will be able to do so in around 30 minutes.

Still in the UK, Christmas and New Year reunions fuelled passenger growth at London Heathrow in December 2022, with more than 5.9 million passengers travelling in the month – up 90% compared with the same time last year.

Transatlantic travel was a key driver behind last month’s high passenger volumes, with New JFK clinching the top spot as the airport’s busiest route.

The good end to the year meant that Heathrow welcomed 61.6 million passengers (76% of 2019 levels) during 2022 – 42.2 million higher than in 2021. This is the highest passenger increase of any airport in Europe.

CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Last year ended on a high with our busiest Christmas in three years and a smooth and efficient service for passengers, thanks to the hard work of our colleagues and close planning with airlines, their ground handlers and Border Force.”

Meanwhile in Denmark, Copenhagen Airport handled 22.1 million passengers last year – more than double the 9.1 million it welcomed in 2021 – as its airlines served 160 destinations across the globe. Spain was the most popular outbound destination while traffic to the US bounced back strongly with almost 800,000 travellers.

“Once again, the terminals echo with the hustle and bustle of expectation – not least near the gates of departures to European destinations,” enthused the airport’s chief commercial officer, Peter Krogsgaard.

“We’ve collaborated closely with the airlines to restart air traffic, and today all the major European routes are back in service, although generally with slightly fewer departures.

“The winter months are traditionally less busy, but we expect a spring and a summer with even more passengers than in 2022.”

Finally, Spanish airport operator, Aena, reports that its gateways handled more than 243.6 million passengers in 2022 to ensure that traveller numbers are back to 88% of pre-COVID levels.

Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport recorded the highest number of passengers in 2022 with 50,633,652, representing a decrease of 18% compared to 2019.

This was followed by Barcelona-El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport, with 41,639,622 and a 21% decrease over 2019; Palma de Mallorca Airport, with 28,573,364 (-3.9%); Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport, with 18,457,194 (-7.1%), Alicante-Elche Airport, with 13,202,880 (-12.3%); Gran Canaria Airport, with 12,417,699 (-6.4%); Tenerife Sur Airport, with 10,821,703 (-3.1%); Ibiza Airport, with 8,156,675 (0%), and Valencia Airport, with 8,114,852, which is a 5% decrease compared to 2019.


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