European airports see traffic grow by 5.5% in 2014

The final figures are in for 2014 and can reveal which of 43 European countries analysed saw the biggest increase (and decrease) in air passenger numbers. Plus we reveal the top 10 winners and losers at an airport level. has now collated passenger traffic data for all of 2014 for well over 300 of Europe’s airports across more than 40 countries. So this week we take a closer look at how different countries and airports compared during what was another challenging year for many European economies. Our free, downloadable database of traffic and trend data, for almost 350 airports across Europe, shows how passenger numbers at airports in these countries in 2014 compared with the same airports in 2013.

Chart - European airport traffic 2014 Change in total annual passengers across all airports

Source: Various.
* In some cases data for only the largest airports in a country has been used (e.g. Reykjavik/Keflavik for Iceland, or Tallinn for Estonia). NB: Dark green bars highlight the EU’s five biggest air travel countries; France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK.

A total of 43 countries are included in this analysis. Nine countries managed to achieve growth in passenger numbers of more than 10%, but six of those handled less than five million annual passengers. Impressive growth rates are always easier to achieve with lower absolute numbers, making the performance of Greece (+16.9%) and Turkey (+11.1%) even more impressive, as Greece’s airports saw passenger numbers rise from 38.5 million to 45 million, while Turkey’s went from 149.4 million to 166 million. Only the UK, Germany and Spain handled more passengers through their airports last year than Turkey.

Among Europe’s ‘big 5’ EU aviation markets (the so-called FIGUS countries) Spain fared best with growth of 4.5%, just beating Italy (+4.4%) and the UK (+4.2%). Germany (+3.0%) did better than France (+1.8%). As a group the FIGUS countries achieved overall growth of 3.7% and accounted for over half of all passengers across Europe. Just two countries reported declining passenger numbers. Kosovo (represented by Pristina Airport) and, not surprisingly, Ukraine.

Moldova and Serbia both report growth of more than 30%

Moldova’s position at the top of the rankings is all down to Chisinau Airport which has seen passenger numbers grow from 1.32 million in 2013 to 1.78 million in 2014. During 2014, the airport welcomed several new services from the national carrier Air Moldova (to Athens, Barcelona and Lisbon), while also benefitting from flydubai’s service from Dubai which started in November 2013, and Wizz Air services to Rome and Venice that were launched in September 2013.

Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport, Serbia’s only commercial airport with more than 100,000 annual passengers, reported traffic growth of 30% in 2014. Much of this can be attributed to the resurgent Air Serbia (now supported by Etihad Airways), but last year also saw new services from easyJet (Geneva and Rome FCO), Etihad Regional (Geneva), TAP Portugal (Lisbon), Vueling (Barcelona) and Wizz Air (Larnaca).

UK still leads as Turkey closes rapidly on top three

Summed across all countries, total passenger numbers at Europe’s airports were up around 5.5% to just over 1.8 billion. This is not the same as counting passengers on airlines as airport passengers are counted twice, once at each end of their journey. The UK (241 million) still leads from Germany (209 million) and Spain (196 million), with Turkey (166 million) closing fast. also estimates that passenger numbers across all of Russia’s airports was somewhere between 155 and 160 million in 2014.

Biggest airport winners and losers

The performance of individual airports (handling at least 100,000 passengers per annum in 2013) across Europe varied considerably. Five airports recorded passenger growth of more than 50%, led by Warsaw Modlin Airport in Poland which had re-opened for flights in September 2013 (after resolving some runway/ILS issues) and is a major base of operations for Ryanair. Among the top 10 fastest-growing airports were five in Turkey and two in Greece, plus one each in Poland, Slovakia (Kosice) and Moldova (Chisinau).

At the other end of the performance scale, nine airports reported a fall in passenger numbers last year of more than 20%. The 10 fastest-shrinking airports were located in Sweden (three airports), Ukraine (two airports) and one each in Germany, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. However, based on passenger data for the first six months of 2014 and analysis of capacity data, it seems likely that Maastricht Airport in the Netherlands was the fastest-shrinking airport in Europe last year, with passenger numbers falling around 40%.

Airport 2014 v 2013 Airport 2014 v 2013
Warsaw Modlin (WMI) +395.8% Stockholm Vasteras (VST) -28.3%
Antalya Gazipasa (GZP) +100.1% Lodz (LCJ) -28.2%
Kalamata (KLX) +73.3% Kharkiv (HRK) -27.7%
Nevsehir (NAV) +51.3% Weeze (NRN) -27.3%
Kosice (KSC) +50.4% Bern (BRN) -26.0%
Chisinau (KIV) +34.9% Karlstad (KSD) -24.0%
Denizli (DNZ) +34.6% Stockholm Skavsta (NYO) -23.5%
Adiyaman (ADF) +34.5% Girona (GRO) -21.1%
Kahramanmaras (KCM) +33.2% Glasgow Prestwick (PIK) -20.4%
Mykonos (JMK) +33.0% Odessa (ODS) -19.2%
Source:’s European Airport Traffic & Trends Database. Airports analysed must have handled at least 100,000 passengers in 2013.

A rather unwelcome claim to fame is that Lodz Airport also appeared in the list of fastest-shrinking airports in 2013 as well. For more detailed figures on the performance of Europe’s airports download our European Airport Traffic & Trends Database spreadsheet which is updated on a weekly basis.


  1. Arthur Dent says:

    According to Aero International magazine Hamburg Luebeck’s passenger numbers fell by 49.8% to 182,303 in 2014. So maybe LBC and not MST should receive the ‘wooden spoon’ among European airports in 2014.

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