All eyes are on the Brexit negotiations not just because of the potential disruptions a no-deal outcome would have on air connectivity, but for the wider economic consequences, according to a European airport chief.
Olivier Jankovec, director general of airport trade association ACI Europe, made the comments after releasing figures for August which showed average passenger traffic in geographical Europe expanded by 5.1 per cent compared with the same month last year.
Jankovec said: “These figures show how demand for air transport has generally remained dynamic despite increasing economic and geopolitical uncertainties in Europe and beyond. While low cost carriers generally continue to stimulate demand, there is no escaping these uncertainties. Higher oil prices are also starting to weigh on air traffic performance.”
At EU airports, passenger traffic grew by 4.6 per cent in August, slightly upward from July (4.3 per cent). As in previous months, airports in the Eastern part of the bloc registered double-digit growth with the Baltic States, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia achieving the best performance – along with Luxembourg and Austria, with the latter enjoying the benefits of increased low cost carrier penetration (Vienna: 11.9 per cent).
Passenger traffic also remained very dynamic in Greece (Athens: 13.4 per cent) and Malta (9.6 per cent). Conversely, airports in Sweden posted the weakest performance (combined impact of the recently imposed national aviation tax and the sharp depreciation of the local currency) along with UK airports ‘possibly of reflection of subdued consumer and business confidence in the context of Brexit’, ACI Europe said.
Passenger traffic at non-EU airports increased by 6.7 per cent – almost the same rate as in July (6.8 per cent). These airports accounted for the bulk of the growth deceleration down from 10.5 per cent in the first half of the year.
Turkish airports in particular saw passenger traffic growth further weakening at 5 per cent (7.2 per cent in July) – a reflection of the country’s economic woes. Meanwhile, airports in Albania, Belarus, Bosnia Herzegovina, FYROM, Georgia, Iceland, Montenegro, and Ukraine all achieved double-digit growth.