Commercial airports in the former Yugoslavia processed a combined total of over 9.66 million passengers during the first five months of the year, with Belgrade and Zagreb positioning themselves within the top seventy and top 100 busiest in Europe respectively. For the first time this year, Sarajevo Airport handled more passengers than its counterpart in Ljubljana, while Rijeka handled fewer travellers than in May of last year. It is the second consecutive month that Rijeka’s figures have dipped compared to the previous year, with the airport forecast to buck the trend in 2023 compared to others in Croatia and handle fewer passengers than it did in 2022. It comes because of LOT Polish Airlines’ decision not to restore seasonal flights from four Polish cities, including Warsaw, as well as Lufthansa reducing its operations by 30% and Ryanair running 7% fewer flights, despite the introduction of a new service from Bergamo this July.
Passenger performance by airport, January – May 2023
During the January – May period, Belgrade Airport ranked 70th busiest on the continent, just behind Stuttgart, Malta and Eindhoven, but ahead of Reykjavik, Larnaca and Thessaloniki. Zagreb also made it into the top 100, positioning 98th. It was behind the likes of Cagliari, Stavanger in Norway and Hanover, but ahead of London City, Tbilisi and Pristina. Pristina itself just missed out on the top 100 and was 105th on the list, behind Santiago de Compostela, Nuremberg and Wroclaw but ahead of Treviso, Rhodes and Tallinn. The Kosovo market saw the third-fastest growth rate in Europe during the five-month period when compared to the pre-pandemic 2019.
Passenger performance by airport, May 2023
During the first five months, the Slovenian market saw the biggest decline in passenger figures in percentage terms in Europe (excluding Ukraine) when compared to the pre-pandemic era with numbers down 39.3%. On the other hand, Albania recorded the fastest growth, amounting to 102%, according to Airports Council International Europe, and was ahead of Armenia with a 57% increase. The Kosovo market registered 45.3% growth, Serbian 26.1%, Macedonian 13.3%, Montenegrin 9.2%, while the Croatian market saw its passenger figures grow 3.9% on the same period in 2019. Notably, most Western European markets are yet to recover their pre-pandemic figures with the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary all well below pre-Covid levels. Overall, London Heathrow Airport was the busiest in Europe between January and May, handling thirty million passengers, ahead of Istanbul’s main gateway, which was second with 28.9 million travellers. They were followed by Paris Charles de Gaulle, Madrid, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Barcelona, London Gatwick, Rome Fiumicino and Istanbul Sabiha Gocken.
European rank for EX-YU capitals and select regional airports, January – May 2023