Istanbul and Moscow airports still tops for traffic in April

Airport passenger statistics for well over 400 airports in Europe showed, once again, that Istanbul and Moscow were the busiest cities in Europe for air travel in April. Moscow’s three main airports handled over five million passengers, while Istanbul’s welcomed over three million. However, it was Istanbul’s still relatively new mega-airport that was the busiest in Europe, and the only one to handle over two million passengers. Airports in Russia and Turkey filled the top six places in April.

Madrid leading airport in western Europe

It was close, with barely 2,400 passengers the difference, but Madrid just edged out Frankfurt as western Europe’s busiest airport in April, though both failed to reach the one million passenger mark. Then came Paris CDG and Amsterdam. Just outside the top 10 was Sochi, where passenger numbers were up (yes, up) 66% compared with April 2019. This ranked it 11th ahead of Antalya, Kiev KBP and London LHR.

Heathrow has been gradually slipping down the rankings from sixth in December to 12th in January and then 13th in February and March. Now it ranks 14th and could easily slip out of the top 15 altogether during the summer as the UK government continues to suppress demand with few countries on its ‘green list’ from which quarantine is not required on return. Traffic figures released on Friday 11 June show that Heathrow handled 675,000 passengers in May, up significantly on its April figure, but still down 90% compared with May 2019.

Top 15 airports in Europe in April 2021

Russian airports recovering most quickly

Looking across Europe at the leading airport(s) in each country and how April 2021 demand compares with April 2019, the top three airports by that metric were all in Russia, with Moscow DME, Moscow VKO and St. Petersburg all reporting passenger figures at over 75% of the level achieved two years ago.

Athens International Airport

The most impressive airport outside of Russia and Turkey is Tirana in Albania, where demand was at over 40% of pre-pandemic levels. At the other end of the scale were Hungary, Ireland and Iceland, where passenger demand was still down in excess of 95% in April compared with April 2019. Budapest, Dublin and Reykjavik KEF are the dominant airports in these countries, though in Iceland the downtown Reykjavik RKV airport is now handling as many passengers as the capital’s main airport thanks to its domestic network.

Among Europe’s major hubs (highlighted in red), Heathrow (7.9% of 2019 traffic) is languishing some way behind Amsterdam (12.9%), Paris CDG (14.1%), Frankfurt (16.3%), Madrid (19.5%) and Istanbul IST (37.8%). At a country level the UK is at just 5% of 2019 traffic levels compared with Germany at 11%, France at 12%, Italy at 13% and Spain at 16%.

European Airports in April 2021

Prague Airport