Passenger numbers at European airports fell 1.6% in January over the same month last year figures from trade body ACI Europe.
Passenger traffic at the European Union airports was hardest hit, falling 3.8% in January compared to the same month in 2012. Traffic at non-EU airports grew 6.8% over the same period.
However, cargo traffic at European airports grew nearly 2.0 in January.
ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec says, "January was a difficult start to the year for many airports in Europe - especially in the EU market where nearly 80% of airports saw their passenger traffic declining. Even most of the usually resilient EU hubs lost traffic, while the recession at regional airports is getting nasty. On the face of it, this is looking like at another 2009-style dip.
"Apart from the continued dynamism of non-EU markets mainly led by Turkey and Russia, the relative improvement in freight traffic is a welcome signal," he adds. "It is consistent with suggestions that GDP in the EU is now bottoming out, with external demand expected to lead a pick-up in economic activity in the months ahead. If domestic demand follows, we could then see passenger traffic improving towards the end of the year."