Number 10: Munich “Franz Joseph Strauß” International Airport
I was very surprised to see my home airport in the Top 10 of this ranking, as it definitely didn’t feel like it was. Europes first 5-star airport, and the current best airport in Europe, saw 11,1 million passengers use the airport, with more than 40% in the first 2 months of the year. Compared to 2019 the passenger numbers were at 47,9%, so he also did experience a strong setback.
Number 9: Barcelona
Barcelona had 12,7 million passengers last year, compared to 52,7 million the year before. In my opinion, the reason for this is clear: Barcelona is a very popular destination for many European countries, and Spain didn’t have strict regulations for quite some time. I imagine Barcelona also has quite some domestic needs, as the city has 5,5 million inhabitants.
Number 8: Istanbul-Sabiha
Technically this airport is located on the Asian side of Istanbul, it is still included in my ranking though.
The airport is known for being used mainly by low-cost carriers like Pegasus Airlines and Turkish Airlines daughter, AnaduluJet. Turkey kept its borders open for tourists most of the time, making it possible for the airlines above to maintain operations on a pretty high level compared to other airlines.
The airport had 17 million passengers in 2020, while it had 35,5 million in 2019.
Number 7: Madrid
The hub of Iberia and Air Europa saw a huge reduction in traffic compared to 2019. Instead of 60,7 million, the airport was only used by 17,1 million passengers, making it the 7th most used airport in Europe. The reason for this is the same as for Barcelona. Additionally, Madrid is also an often-used stopover for flights to the Canary Islands which remained open to tourists most time of the year, and as well for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Number 6: Frankfurt International Airport
Germany’s biggest airport was only in 6th place last year. Germany imposed quite strict travel restrictions, showing a big effect on Germany’s aviation industry. Lufthansa, which has its hub in Frankfurt, was also hit very hard by the pandemic and was only able to survive due to a 10 billion dollar bailout by the government. The airport was used by 18,8 million in 2020. In 2019 it had 70,6 million passengers.
Number 5: Moscow Sheremetyevo
Moscow Sheremetyevo still saw 19,8 million passengers in 2020. The reason for this is the fact, that the Russian government, didn’t see CoVid-19 as a big thread and allowed for air travel to continue. Another reason is, that due to the bad financial situation in Russia, a big part of the leisure travel takes place domestically to airports like Sochi or Krasnodar.
Number 4: Amsterdam Schipol
KLM’s hub is the first airport on this list, which had more than 20 million passengers last year. Amsterdam achieved 20,9 million passengers in 2020 compared to 71,7 the year before. I think this is due to Amsterdam’s role as an important connection airport. KLM still served many destinations all around the world, even though on a much lower capacity obviously. Amsterdam is also an airport that remained being served by many foreign operators from all around the world and is an important airport for flights to the Caribbean.
Number 3: London Heathrow
The former number 1 is now only in third place with 22,1 million passengers compared to 81 million in 2019. This was due to heavy lockdowns and travel restrictions in Great Britain. The airport suffered a minus of -73% traffic compared to 2019. Nevertheless, many airlines kept operating flights to London in order to keep their slots.
Number 2: Paris Charles de Gaulle
This one surprised me a lot as I never had the impression that CDG was still that busy. Paris slightly overtook London by 200,000 passengers, achieving 22,3 million passengers in 2020, compared to 76,2 in 2019. In my opinion this due to the strong leisure travel to the Caribbean and Reunion as well as Air France also maintaining lots of destinations all over the world. The airport apparently also offers enough demand for Emirates to daily use their A380s on the route to CDG.
Number 1: Istanbul Airport
This one REALLY surprised me. Istanbul, an airport which only opened in 2019, managed to get first despite the travel restrictions. This is probably because of the same reason I already mentioned with Istanbul’s low-cost airport, meaning the only hesitantly imposed travel restrictions. This allowed Turkish Airlines to establish itself as one of the leading airlines to connect within these times, as they maintained a stunning route network, especially towards Asia, which was the goal when building the new airport. I believe this airport has the potential to maintain its current position in the long run. The airport had 23,4 million passengers use the airport in 2020, while it already had 52,5 million passengers in 2019, despite not being open the whole year.
Interestingly the numbers the first place has at the moment wouldn’t even have been enough for the Top 30 under pre-CoVid circumstances.
Thanks for reading! What is your opinion on this unusual situation?