Analysis of data at 300 European airports reveals winners and losers in 2009 by airport and country

With traffic data for all of 2009 now available for many of Europe’s airports, this week takes a closer look at how different airports and countries compared during this challenging period for airports and airlines. Using a database of traffic trend data from some 300 European airports (including those in countries such as Morocco, Russia and Turkey) shows which countries have been most (and least) affected by recent economic realities.

Chart: European traffic 2009
Source: Various
* In some cases data for only the largest airports in a country has been used. Some airports have only reported traffic data to November in which case has estimated the data for the whole year.
NB: Dark green bars highlights Europe’s five biggest air travel countries; France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Only four of 33 countries analysed reported air traffic growth. Morocco and Turkey are both developing markets which appear to have benefited from being slightly outside the European mainstream. Albania and Latvia are basically one-airport countries dominated by fast-growing Tirana and Riga.

Europe’s ‘big 5′ country markets averaged traffic declines of around 6% with Spain suffering the most. Seven countries saw air travel fall by 10% or more. Four of these were in Central Europe. Lithuania and Slovakia suffered as a result of the demise of their leading airlines (FlyLal and SkyEurope) while Estonia and Slovenia also had a difficult year. Iceland’s performance was no surprise its serious problems. Sweden had a tough year as SAS continued to downsize while Ireland appears to be the paying the price for introducing a tourism tax during the year, at a time when other countries were trying to find ways of encouraging rather than discouraging air travel.

Biggest winners and losers

The performance of individual airports across Europe varied from those where passenger numbers doubled (Trapani in Italy) and those where they halved (Durham Tees Valley in the UK). Below are listed the top 10 airports at both ends of the performance spectrum.

Airport 2009 v 2008 Airport 2009 v 2008
Trapani (TPS) +100.7% Durham Tees Valley (MME) -55.4%
Memmingen (FMM) +75.7% Kosice (KSC) -40.4%
Weeze (NRN) +63.3%* Blackpool (BLK) -36.9%
Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) +47.7% Vilnius (VNO) -36.0%
Zadar (ZAD) +36.6% Forli (FRL) -32.8%
Tangier (TNG) +35.9% Dortmund (DTM) -27.7%*
Reus (REU) +33.4% Norwich (NWI) -26.3%
Brussels Charleroi (CRL) +33.1% Tallinn (TLL) -25.7%
Lübeck (LBC) +31.0%* Glasgow Prestwick (PIK) -24.7%
Fez (FEZ) +28.8% Valladolid (VLL) -23.8%
Source: European Airport Traffic Trends Database
Airports analysed must have handled at least 100,000 passengers in 2009.
* Figures for January to November

Over 60 airports reported growth for the whole of 2009 which shows that some airports have clearly found ways to attract airlines and stimulate traffic even during the current economic climate. They key growth driver at these airports has clearly been the continued growth of low-cost carriers.

However, it should also be noted that many of those airports that had a particularly bad year can also blame the withdrawal of low-cost services for their plummeting passenger numbers. The fact that four of the bottom 10 airports are in the UK, the ancestral home of low-cost carrier development in Europe, is probably significant.
For more detailed figures on the performance of Europe’s airports click here.


  1. Grain says:

    KOSICE AIRPORT (KSC).( Slovakia)
    Thank you AUSTRIAN Management of Vienna Aiport, for this beautiful -40% over year loss.
    EasyJet, Lufthansa, Wizzair, They all wanted to open their routes from Kosice airport. but for some mysterious reason, manahement of kosice airport rejected them, plus raised their fees and charges( most expensive in europe.
    Potencial of Kosice airport is over 1 million passangers per year, maybe more, but people are using other airports such as Poprad, Bratislava, Budapest, Vienna… because you cant get anywhere from kosice.

    Someone should look into that.
    thank you

  2. Aliaksei says:

    Any chance to see a statistic on Belarus/Minsk airport?

  3. RIX says:

    It’s a bit strange that despite growing market 2010 over 10% at Riga International AirFrance/KLM, Air Lingus, Easyjet, Germanwings discontinued flights in last 18 monts, and stll serve other destination around Baltic region with -10% decrease in 2009, but Lufthansa despite higher average ticket prices or Turkish Airlines will increase flight frequency.
    Once more, direct connecton to JFK has cheaper ticket prices than connected flights with LOT, Lufthaansa, SAS, Finnair etc. only connected flights with CSA are cheaper than direct flights.
    Does it show Baltic market will grow further from Riga International and reach 2010 5 Million travelers, in January 2010 pax grew again around 20%.

  4. Ajay says:

    Hi guys,

    Fantastic job on maintaining the 2008 and 2009 statistics excel file. Can I add a suggestion to putting the traffic data into the file in addition with the monthly growth rates? replies: Great idea Ajay! We’ll be starting our 2010 European Airport Traffic Trends Database shortly so we’ll see what we can do. Watch this space …

  5. Basarab says:

    What happend with Romanian Airports? replies: Romanian airports unfortunately do not publish their passenger statistics. The data we get on them through ICAO is made available with a delay, so we still do not have the figures for 2009 as a whole.

Comments are closed