Airports under strain as passengers return, trade body admits

Passenger numbers using European airports resumed an “upward trajectory” in February after stalling for two months due to the Omicron wave.

But airports are beginning to feel the strain of staff shortages ahead of the Easter and summer travel peaks.

The level of travellers across the European airport network was down by 39% during the month, an improvement from 45.7% down in January compared to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, according to airport trade body ACI Europe.

Director general Olivier Jankovec described the outlook for the Easter holidays and into the summer months as being strong, “but staff shortages, high traffic peaks and ATM [air traffic management] capacity issues are starting to put strain on operations and to impact quality”.

He added: “Above all, there is no escaping the fact that the war in Ukraine has devastated the country’s airports and that it also comes with significant downside risks for European air traffic.”

Jankovec said: “Improvements to passenger traffic in February reflected the fact that states started to ease restrictions as the Omicron wave subsided, both at local level and those relating to travel.

“Since then, most restrictions to intra-European travel have been lifted and more external markets are opening up – meaning the traffic recovery has gathered steam.”

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