Europe’s major hubs see fortunes improve; September traffic down just 3%

The CEOs’ fears were right: Having had the highest growth in the beginning of 2007, Dublin traffic is now down by over 18% over the last two years and cries are heard for the abolishment of the €10 Irish travel tax which unsuitably coincided with this year’s estimated 7-8% GDP fall in Ireland.

Analysis of Europe’s six major hubs for the first nine months of 2009 reveals that the summer figures appear to be a significant improvement on what happened over the winter 2008/09 period. The shift in Easter caused a local spike (including growth at Heathrow) in April. Whereas in March the average traffic drop across the six major bases was close to 10%, and was still around 7% in June, in July it was closer to just 4% and around 3% in August. Amsterdam has yet to report figures for September.

Chart: Big hubs 2007-09
Source: Airport websites

Madrid, which suffered far more during the winter months than the other major hubs has bounced back well this summer and even reported a small gain in passengers in September. However, it should be noted that in September 2008 its traffic had fallen almost 10% so the ‘flat’ growth in 2009 still means that traffic levels are down 10% compared with September 2007.

Comparing traffic in September 2009 with traffic in September 2007 reveals that among the top 6 hubs Rome is up 0.2%, Amsterdam down 2.9%, London Heathrow down 3.9%, Paris CDG down 7.0%, Frankfurt down 8.4% and Madrid down 9.7%.

Zurich reports growth in both August and September

Among the secondary tier of European hubs Zurich has achieved marginal growth in each of the last two months while Athens reported passenger number increases in July and August.

Chart: Small hubs 2007-09
Source: Airport websites

For each of the last four months Dublin has ranked bottom among these hub airports with demand down between 13% and 15%. This has led to the CEOs of the country’s three biggest airlines (Aer Arann, Aer Lingus and Ryanair) to call on the Irish government to abolish the €10 travel tax which was introduced at the end of March this year.

Comparing traffic in September 2009 with traffic in September 2007 reveals that the strongest performers among the secondary hubs are Zurich (+3.7%) and Munich (-2.9%). The worst airports are Stockholm (-13.9%) and Dublin (-18.3%).


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