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European airports - Statistics & Facts

Increasing demand for air travel and transport during the 1900s led to the establishment of first airports to facilitate the landing of an aircraft, enplanement for passengers and loading of cargo. In Europe, the first commercial airport opened in Hamburg in 1911. Since then many more airports across European cities were built to advance the aviation industry and economy. In 2019, over 226.7 million passengers travelled by air in Germany, making it the third-largest market. During that same period, roughly 227.2 million passengers used air travel in Spain. Overall, the number of passengers traveling by air in the European Union (EU-28) was over 1.1 billion.

Since 2010, the global air traffic passenger demand has been increasing steadily with at least four percent per year. During the same period, European passenger traffic experienced an even higher development trend. To meet the surging demand, the capacity of commercial airlines in Europe also expanded throughout the last decade. Growth in the flow of air travelers affected the airports in Europe immensely. In the short-term, the airports are subject to capacity and size constraints in handling passengers and cargo. Therefore, various airports across the region utilized efficiency-enhancing measures to deal with increasing needs.

Some airports expanded the size in the long-term, such as London Heathrow Airport (LHR). When London (LHR) was much expanded in 2009, the airport was projected to be the largest passenger airport in Europe to meet the increasing air travel demand. In 2019, London Heathrow Airport was the leading airport in the EU-28 in terms of the number of passengers. Between 2011 and 2019, the revenue of London (LHR) increased continuously, reaching over three billion British pounds in 2019. In 2019, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was the leading European airports based on aircraft movements . When we compare the European airports by air freight and mail handled, Paris-Charles Dwe Gaulle Airport was the leading freight airport in 2019. Similar to London (LHR), Frankfurt Airport experienced increasing revenue generated during recent years. In 2019, the Frankfurt Airport reported roughly 2.7 billion euros of revenue from all its operations.

Although one observes a steady positive growth path over recent decades, the aviation industry is not exempt from the influence of economic shocks. The recent health crisis, namely the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, led to a deep economic shock that affected the aviation industry severely. For instance, European airports are estimated to have a 37.1 billion U.S. dollars loss in revenue as of May 2020, while European airlines are estimated to record a net profit loss of almost 27 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.

For further information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Facts and Figures page.

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