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Strong traffic growth in Europe – except Sweden

Sweden risks being left behind in the strong and steady passenger growth, due to several factors.

Passenger traffic at Europe’s airports grew by an average of 6.7% in the first half of 2018, according to European airport trade body ACI Europe in its latest air traffic report. But Sweden is far behind.

Traffic in the non-EU market rose by 10.5%, nearly twice the expansion rate of the EU market of 5.4%.

But both markets saw growth recede slightly in Q2 over Q1, from 12.5% to 9.4% at non-EU airports and from 6.2% to 4.9% at EU airports.

In the EU, airports in the Baltic countries, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia achieved double digit growth.

But airports in Sweden posted the lowest growth in Europe, at 1.5%, due to a combination of the new national aviation tax introduced last April, the bankruptcy of regional airline NextJet and lower outbound demand as the local currency hits its lowest value in years.

Sweden was the only European market losing passenger traffic in June (-0.4%), while its tax is among the factors leading to the improved performance of airports in neighbouring Denmark (+5.7%).

In the non-EU market, passenger traffic grew in excess of 15% at airports in Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia and Israel and Iceland.

High growth
Europe’s top-five busiest airports recorded a passenger traffic increase of 6.3% in H1, an improvement over their 2017 performance (+4.3%).

Istanbul-Atatürk topped the league in terms of growth (+12.9%), followed by Frankfurt (+9.1%). Amsterdam-Schiphol also reported robust growth (+5.4%), followed by Paris-CDG (+3%) whose performance was impacted by repeated strikes at Air France, and capacity-constrained London-Heathrow (+2.6%).

Stronger growth focused mainly on secondary and smaller hubs as well as selected medium sized and larger regional airports – reflecting ever-evolving competitive dynamics largely driven by low-cost carriers and non-EU full-service carriers.

These airports include Istanbul-SAW (+12.4%), Lisbon (+12.9%), Milan-Malpensa (+11.1%), Athens (+11.4%), Tel Aviv (+13.1%), Helsinki (+12%), Moscow-Vnukovo (+19.8%), Warsaw (+14.8%), Prague (+10.3%), Budapest (+14.8%), Naples (+24.7%), Keflavik (+15.6%), Valencia (+20.2%), Krakow (+17.8%), Malta (+16.3%), Seville (+26.9%), Palermo (+16.9%), Nantes (+14%) and Heraklion (+14.2%).

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