In 2021, the total number of passengers travelling by air in the EU was 373 million, a substantial increase of 35% compared with 2020, after the strong decline of 73% (compared with 2019) due to pandemic restrictions according to Eurostat, the statistical service of the EU.
Cyprus was the country with the second largest rise in number of air travel passengers (105%) in 2021 compared to 2020.
Looking at the pre-pandemic year of 2019, when the total number of passengers reached 1.04 billion people, the number of passengers in air transport decreased by 64%, indicating that recovery was still far away.
Data show that in 2021, all Member States, except for Finland (-16%), registered an increase in the number of passengers travelling by air compared with 2020.
These increases varied among Member States, from 10% in Ireland, 16% in Sweden and 17% in Latvia, to 86% in Greece, 105% in Cyprus and 129% in Croatia.
Extra-EU passenger transport represented 39% of total air passenger transport in 2021. On the other hand, intra-EU transport represented 38% and national transport represented 23%. Compared with 2020, the share of extra-EU transport decreased by 5.5 percentage points (pp), while intra-EU transport increased by 4.5 pp; national transport increased by 1 pp.
In 2021, the list of top 5 EU airports remained the same as in 2020, with Paris/Charles de Gaulle (26.2 million passengers), Amsterdam/Schiphol (25.5 million), Frankfurt/Main (24.8 million), Madrid/Barajas (23.2 million) and Barcelona/El Prat (18.5 million) leading the chart.
Palma de Mallorca (14.5 million) is now in the top 10, and München (12.5 million) dropped three places being the top 10 airport that saw the smallest increase in the number of passengers in 2021 compared with 2020, +12%.
Palma de Mallorca in Spain saw the biggest growth on that list, +137% compared with 2020, followed by Paris-Orly in France (+46%) and Athinai/Eleftherios Venizelos in Greece (+52%).
Larnaka airport was further down on the list with 3.1 million passengers in 2021 (compared with 1.6 million in 2020 and 8.2 million in 2019). Pafos airport recorded 1.5 passengers in 2021, compared with 631,950 in 2020 and 3.0 million in 2019.