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The overall passenger traffic at European airports for 2009 decreased by -5.9% compared with 2008. The accumulated figure for freight traffic during January to December decreased by -13.1% and movements decreased by -7.5% during the corresponding period when compared with 2008. 86% of airports lost traffic in 2009.

However, the year ended with some signs of confidence returning, as the overall passenger traffic at European airports increased by +2.2% in December 2009 compared with December 2008. The overall freight traffic among European airports increased +16.8% in December 2009 when compared with the corresponding month in 2008. The overall figure for movements at European airports decreased -2.5% in December 2009 when compared with December 2008.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI Europe, commented: “This past year weighted heavily on European rts, with nearly 100 million passengers lost compared to 2008. This means 2.8 years of growth lost, with passenger traffic getting back slightly above 2006 levels. The downturn for freight was even worse, with 4 years of growth lost. While the year-end showed some signs of confidence returning, particularly for freight, the pace of recovery for passenger traffic is still very slow.”

ACI Europe remains cautious about the outlook in 2010, in face of what appears to be a fragile economic recovery for Europe, significant structural changes in the aviation market and the prospect of further increases in security costs following the recent events of 25 December 2009.

Mr Jankovec added “Airports across Europe will continue to tighten their belts and cut costs to protect competitive positions. But they will also need to look beyond the crisis. The long lead time in airport development and the fact that air traffic is still expected to double by 2030 mean that airports need to start investing now to deliver the facilities that will be required tomorrow. Not an easy task after months of falling revenues and capital cost still way above pre-crisis levels.”

In December 2009, airports welcoming more than 25 million passengers per year (Group 1), airports welcoming between 10 and 25 million passengers (Group 2), airports welcoming between 5 and 10 million passengers (Group 3) and airports welcoming less than 5 million passengers per year (Group 4) reported an average increase/decrease of +1.9%, +1.6%, +1.6% and +3.0% respectively when compared with December 2008. However, as a reflection of the weak comparative between 2009 and 2008, the same comparison of December 2009 with December 2007 demonstrates an average decrease of -4.9%, -8.1%, -7.3% and -3.1% respectively.

Examples of airports that experienced an increase in passenger traffic per group, when comparing December 2009 with December 2008, include:
- Group 1 airports – Rome FCO (+13.8%), Istanbul (+9.5%)
Madrid (+4.9%) and Munich (+4.2%)
- Group 2 airports – Moscow DME (+25.8%), Moscow SVO (+12.7%)
Hamburg (+7.4%) and Prague (+7.3%)
- Group 3 airports – Moscow VKO (+28.1%), Napoli (+14.5%)
Berlin SXF (+8.8%) and Budapest (+8.7%)
- Group 4 airports – Ohrid (+96.3%), Brindisi (+40.5%),
Charleroi (+39.1%) and Bologna (+26.9%).

The 'ACI Europe Airport Traffic Report - December 2009' includes 110 airports in total. These airports represent nearly 80% of total European passenger traffic.