Düsseldorf, Budapest and Bucharest among Europe’s busiest 10 airports without US flights


Some 56 airports in Europe will have scheduled non-stop flights to the US in 2024, based on Cirium schedules information. This is the case whether they are year-round or seasonal. But what of Europe’s busiest airports without US service? Some airports have never had them, while others have lost them. Some are surprising but others are not.

Istanbul SAW is Europe’s busiest airports without US flights

Analysis of Cirium data for Europe’s 50 busiest airports by available seats from January to October 2024 tells that 15 do not have US flights. Due to sanctions, Russian airports have been excluded.

Europe’s 11th busiest airport, Istanbul SAW, is the leading facility without US flights. Soon to gain a second runway, it is heavily served by Pegasus and AnadoluJet (to be renamed AJet).

Just because an airport is busy does not mean it would or should have US service. It partly depends on what makes it so busy. Is it mainly (U)LCC passengers? Inbound tourism from across Europe to a holiday hotspot? Does it revolve around domestic flying? This is even before obvious questions of infrastructure, demand, economics, awareness from the US, suitability (including population centres), incentives, partnerships and much more is considered.

Top 10 busiest European airports without US flights

Düsseldorf has lost US service

Some airports stand out much more than others, including Düsseldorf, London STN, Hamburg, Budapest and Bucharest. All have had regular US service before – some very recently – and a few continue to have long-haul routes elsewhere.

Athens International Airport

Despite having around 18 million people living within a 100-kilometre radius, Düsseldorf – Europe’s 29th busiest airport in the examined period – struggles to sustain US operations.

Its last US route, Delta from Atlanta, ceased at the end of S23. Analysis shows that the German airport has had non-stop service to 12 airports in the past two decades: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago ORD, Detroit, Fort Myers, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York JFK, Orlando MCO and San Francisco. In all, seven airlines operated. At the peak, there was 610,000 departing seats a year.

Dusseldorf non-stop US capacity 2004-2023

Is Bucharest to have US flights again?

The Romanian capital is the continent’s 41st busiest airport by departing seats, with three-quarters provided by Wizz Air, Ryanair and TAROM in that order. Bucharest has had US routes before, most recently by Delta to JFK from 2007 to 2009. Before that, TAROM flew to JFK for years until 2003, mainly using the A310.

In mid-December 2023, HiSky gained approval from US authorities to begin flying to the country. While it previously disclosed that it would use its A321LRs from Dublin, it has since wet-leased an A330-200.

The 13.5-year-old aircraft will be on the Romanian register as YR-KID and the company has stated it will use it to the US – but after charter flights to Asia. Interestingly, its transatlantic flights, which would surely be to JFK, would be nearly fully reliant on P2P demand.

London Southend Airport