German slowdown causes concern

11 September 2017

Germany is still a significant market but growth decelerated in 2016

Germany remains the largest national air market in continental Europe, with total passenger volume of 223.23 million in 2016. In the last five years, passenger traffic grew each year at German airports. However, the average growth has been under the European average – and German airports experienced a slowdown in 2016 compared to 2015 (3.4% growth versus 3.9%).Infographic showing passenger traffic trends at main German airports. (ADV/IHS Markit) Infographic showing passenger traffic trends at main German airports. (ADV/IHS Markit)

However, 2017 is shaping up to be the best year of the decade so far for German airports. According to the national airports association ADV, airports in the country enjoyed accelerated passenger traffic growth in the first five months of the year, with a 6.3% year-on-year increase to 88.1 million.

In recent years, traffic growth was driven by a few airports: Tegel and Schönefeld in Berlin; Cologne/Bonn; Hamburg; Düsseldorf; Munich; and Frankfurt (although in 2016 slight decrease in traffic was noted). Other German airports suffered decreases, or at best stagnated. The introduction of tax on air tickets in 2011 depressed charter and holiday schedule traffic from smaller airports, as leisure and charter airlines concentrated their activities on larger airports with a wider catchment area. Leisure/low-cost airports such as Frankfurt Hahn, Bremen, Nuremberg, Dortmund, Leipzig or Münster/Osnabrück experienced a drop in passengers.

Another major factor behind slower growth at some airports comes from the difficulty to expand airport facilities and infrastructure. According to Michael Garvens, ADV president and CEO of Cologne/Bonn Airport, German airports are operating in an environment that is “increasingly regulated by the State with more financial burdens being implemented”.

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