2012: overall, traffic falls but growth for low-cost and charters

21 February 2013

Brussels, Belgium – In 2012 there was a total of 26,100 average daily flights in Europe. This is a decline of 2.67% compared to 2011. The decrease was spread unevenly across countries and market segments, with low cost and charter and eastern European countries seeing growth in numbers of flights while western Europe and the traditional market segments decreased.

In 2012, low-cost and chartered airlines saw increases of 1.4% and 2.6% respectively compared to 2011. In contrast, traditional scheduled air traffic – which accounts for half of total flights – business aviation and all-cargo suffered a decline of some 4-5% year-on-year.

Breakdown of traffic per market segment
Market SegmentAverage Daily FlightsMarket ShareGrowth on 2012
Traditional scheduled14,35555%-4.1%
Low cost6,53725%1.4%
Business aviation1,8707%-4.0%
Charter1,4145%2.6%
Cargo9184%-4.6%
Other*9954%-9.6%
TOTAL26,089100%-2.67%
* Other includes also military flights

Some countries, in particular in eastern Europe, saw an increase in traffic during the year. Turkey, Norway, Poland, Ukraine and Estonia together had an extra 240 flights per day (excluding overflights). This increase was offset by reductions in the busiest countries. Spain was the main contributor to the decline with 290 fewer flights per day. Italy and Germany saw roughly half that decrease with around 140 fewer flights daily.

The results of this pattern can be seen in the figures for the busiest airports per average daily  departures. Among the busiest hubs, all but two had decreases. Madrid Barajas shrank by 13.3%. Other major airports, like Paris CDG, Frankfurt Main, Heathrow, Munich and Rome Fiumicino, were in negative figures, ranging from -1.3% to almost -5%. The only two airports delivering growth out of the 10 busiest are Istanbul-Ataturk – which is becoming an increasingly important hub in the east with steady and strong 12.2% growth – and Amsterdam Schiphol, which remains stable with gains of 0.3%.

10 busiest departure airports per average daily departures
RankDeparture AirportAverage Daily DeparturesGrowth on 2012
1PARIS CH DE GAULLE680-3.4%
2FRANKFURT MAIN659-1.3%
3LONDON/HEATHROW649-1.5%
4SCHIPHOL AMSTERDAM5930.3%
5MUENCHEN 2540-3.2%
6MADRID BARAJAS510-13.3%
7ISTANBUL-ATATURK48212.2%
8ROME FIUMICINO429-4.7%
9BARCELONA396-4.6%
10ZURICH357-2.8%

Turkey and Norway have between them 6 out of the 10 busiest city pairs. The biggest percentage increase in flights between city pairs was between Istanbul Ataturk and Izimr Adnam Menderes. In contrast, the Barcelona-Madrid Barajas route has fallen by almost a fifth.

10 busiest airport pairs per number of daily flights
RankDeparture AirportArrival AirportAverage Daily Movements*Growth on 2012
1BARCELONAMADRID BARAJAS62-19.1%
2ISTANBUL-ATATURKIZMIR-ADNAN-MENDERES5912.5%
3TOULOUSE BLAGNACPARIS ORLY510.6%
4TRONDHEIM/VAERNESOSLO/GARDERMOEN494.3%
5MILANO LINATEROME FIUMICINO481.9%
6OSLO/GARDERMOENBERGEN/FLESLAND48-2.2%
7PARIS ORLYNICE461.6%
8ISTANBUL-ATATURKANTALYA446.4%
9OSLO/GARDERMOENSTAVANGER/SOLA442.0%
10ISTANBUL-ATATURKANKARA-ESENBOGA424.3%
* both directions

Regarding delays communicated by the airlines within the European Network in 2012; 36% of flights were delayed by more than five minutes on departure.

The average delay per delayed flight was 27 minutes. This translates to 9.5 minutes per flight:

Average delay per flight all-causes (minutes)
ReactionaryAirlineAir Traffic Flow ManagementOther
4.32.81.21.2

The UK, particularly the London airports, and the Iberian peninsula had the airports with highest delays per flight in 2012.

10 airports with highest departure delay per flight
RankDeparture airportAverage delay per departure (minutes)% of delayed departures
1LISBOA16.452.4%
2ISTANBUL-ATATURK13.848.0%
3MANCHESTER13.742.2%
4LONDON/HEATHROW12.546.5%
5LONDON/GATWICK12.042.7%
6LONDON/LUTON11.839.9%
7MALAGA11.439.2%
8PARIS CH DE GAULLE11.447.6%
9MADRID BARAJAS11.244.6%
10PALMA DE MALLORCA10.839.3%

With fuel prices remaining high and the economic recovery delayed yet again, EUROCONTROL’s current forecast is for a slight decline in traffic in 2013. We expect this to be revised further downwards in the new forecast due out at the end of February.

For more forecasts, please refer to the latest information available at the date of publication: EUROCONTROL Two-Year Forecast (December 2012) - (PDF).

For further information, please contact:
Kyla Evans/Catherine De Smedt, Tel: +32 2 729 50 95
Email: press@eurocontrol.int
Website: www.eurocontrol.int

Related documents

2012: overall, traffic falls but growth for low-cost and charters Press release - (PDF)

Note to editors
This press release was prepared using data from STATFOR and CODA. STATFOR, the Statistics and Forecasts service (STATFOR) provides statistics and forecasts on air traffic in Europe and analyses its evolution. The Central Office for Delay Analysis (CODA) provides policy makers and managers of the ECAC Air Transport System with the relevant information on the air traffic delay situation in Europe. EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, has as its primary objective to develop a seamless, pan-European air traffic management (ATM) system that fully copes with the growth in air traffic, while maintaining a high level of safety, reducing costs and respecting the environment. EUROCONTROL has 39 Member States: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. On 5 December 2012, the 40th Member State, Georgia, signed the Protocol of Accession to the Intergovernmental Organisation, EUROCONTROL.