Bulgaria had the largest increase among all European Union countries in the number of air passengers in 2016, when the number rose by 22.5 per cent, EU statistics agency Eurostat said on October 11.
The number of air passengers in Bulgaria in 2016 was about 9.32 million, according to Eurostat.
In 2016, 972.7 million passengers travelled by air in the European Union (EU), up by 5.9 per cent compared with 2015 and by 29.1 per cent compared with 2009.
Over this period, air passenger transport has steadily risen in the EU, Eurostat said.
In 2016, intra-EU transport represented almost half (47 per cent) of total air passenger transport in the EU and extra-EU transport over a third (35.6 per cent), while national transport accounted for fewer than one in every five passengers (17.3 per cent).
On the EU territory in 2016, six people died in commercial air transport accidents involving EU aircraft.
In 2016, the highest number of air passengers was recorded in the United Kingdom, where total air passenger transport amounted to 249 million. It was followed by Germany (201 million passengers), Spain (194 million), France (145 million) and Italy (135 million).
The number of air passengers carried in 2016 rose in all EU member states compared with 2015, except in Belgium (-2.7 per cent) and Slovenia (-2.2 per cent).
The largest increases were registered in Bulgaria (+22.5 per cent), Romania (+20.5 per cent) and Cyprus (+18.1 per cent), ahead of Hungary (+14.1 per cent), Croatia (+13.8 per cent), Portugal (+13.7 per cent), Lithuania (+13.3 per cent) and Luxembourg (+12.5 per cent).
London/Heathrow remained the EU’s busiest passenger airport in 2016, with 75.7 million passengers handled, slightly up (+1.0 per cent) compared with 2015.
Paris/Charles de Gaulle (65.8 million, +0.3 per cent), Amsterdam/Schiphol (63.6 million, +9.3 per cent), Frankfurt/Main (60.7 million, -0.4 per cent) and Madrid/Barajas (49.2 million, +6.2 per cent) completed the top five of the busiest airports in the EU.
They were followed by Barcelona/El Prat (43.8 million, +11.0 per cent), London/Gatwick (43.1 million, +7.2 per cent), München (42.2 million, +3.2 per cent) and Roma/Fiumicino (41.6 million, +3.3 per cent).
Each of the top 30 EU airports registered an increase in the number of passengers handled in 2016, except Brussels/National (-6.4 per cent) and Frankfurt/Main (-0.4 per cent).
The highest rises among the top 30 EU airports were registered in London/Luton (+19.4 per cent), Malaga/Costa del Sol (+15.7 per cent) and Warszawa/Chopina (+14.5 per cent), ahead of Lisboa (+11.7 per cent), Dublin (+11.2 per cent), Barcelona/Prat (+11.0 per cent), Manchester (+10.9 per cent), Athinai/Eleftherios Venizelos and Palma de Mallorca (both +10.6 per cent).
As in 2015, London/Heathrow (44.8 million) handled in 2016 the most passengers on extra-EU transport and Amsterdam/Schiphol (37.9 million) the most on intra-EU transport, while Paris/Orly and Madrid/Bajaras (both 14.1 million) led for national transport.
(Main photo, of Sofia Airport: Aisano)