Domestic air traffic down in all eight major European markets in August; Portugal tops international growth league

Image: Portugal airport sees total traffic up by more than 5%
International traffic has been performing better than domestic traffic in most European countries. Even here only four of the nine markets studied reported growth in August with only Portugal seeing total traffic up by more than 5%.

Analysis of passenger traffic data across eight of the largest European countries shows that domestic air travel was down in every one of them in August. This is a very rare event and another indicator of how travel demand is being affected by both higher fuel prices and a general economic malaise across Europe.

Chart: Domestic growth for 2008
Source: UK CAA, BAA, destatis, DGAC, ADP, Assaeroporti, LFV, Avinor, Finavia, AENA

In July German and Swedish domestic markets were still reporting growth but the summer holiday season of August has resulted in both of these markets declining (as they both did in March when Easter came early).

Spain at least has the excuse that the launch of high-speed rail services between Barcelona and Madrid is currently taking over 30% of the air market on the busiest Spanish domestic route. Italy’s excuse can probably best be summed up in one word – Alitalia.

International traffic compensating in most countries

International traffic has been performing better than domestic traffic in most European countries resulting in total airport traffic numbers looking slightly healthier. Even here only four of the nine markets studied reported growth in August with only Portugal seeing total traffic up by more than 5%.

Chart: Total airport passengers
Source: UK CAA, BAA, destatis, DGAC, ADP, Assaeroporti, LFV, Avinor, Finavia, AENA, ANA

Last year’s European star performers, Italy and Spain, achieved annual growth of 10.1% and 8.6% in 2007. In the first eight months of 2008 their respective year-to-date growth rates are just 2.0% and 0.9%.


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