Eurostat: Air passengers in EU up 35% in 2021 following 2020 decline

In 2021, the total number of passengers travelling by air in the European Union was 373 million, a substantial increase of 35 per cent compared with 2020, after the strong decline of 73 per cent (compared with 2019) due to pandemic restrictions, EU statistics agency Eurostat said on December 7.

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 per cent, indicating that recovery was still far away, Eurostat said.

Data show that in 2021, all EU countries, except for Finland (-16 per cent), registered an increase in the number of passengers travelling by air compared with 2020.

These increases varied among EU countries, from 10 per cent in Ireland, 16 per cent in Sweden and 17 per cent in Latvia to 86 per cent in Greece, 105 per cent in Cyprus and 129 per cent in Croatia.

In Bulgaria, the increase was 35.37 per cent.

Extra-EU passenger transport represented 39 per cent of total air passenger transport in 2021, Eurostat said.

On the other hand, intra-EU transport represented 38 per cent and national transport represented 23 per cent.

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 five 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, the statistics agency said.

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, an increase of 12 per cent.

Palma de Mallorca in Spain saw the biggest growth on that list, an increase of 137 per cent compared with 2020, followed by Paris-Orly in France (46 per cent) and Athinai/Eleftherios Venizelos in Greece (52 per cent).

In 2021, 15 million tonnes of freight and mail were transported by air in the EU, up 21 per cent compared with 2020. Of that total, 12 million tonnes were related to extra-EU transport, Eurostat said.

(Photo: Rui Caldeira/

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