European air traffic to remain flat in 2013: ACI

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Europe's airports body is warning of flat or falling traffic rates, particularly for regional airports, as a revival in the continent's economy proves elusive.

ACI Europe figures show the recovery in European traffic in 2012 has stalled, with EU airports registering a 2% drop in volumes between January and April, compared with a year before.

The body's director general Olivier Jankovec says a slump in demand and business confidence, combined with a "jobs crisis" in Europe, has hit traffic growth. "We were told that we would have a European economic recovery by the summer, but that has now been pushed back to the end of the year, so we are not very optimistic," he says.

Growth is forecast to remain flat at 0.5% for the rest of 2013, but traffic volumes are not spread evenly across Europe, and hub airports are performing much better than their regional counterparts. Non-EU countries such as Iceland, Russia and Turkey are meanwhile registering strong traffic growth.

Jankovec warns that a "two-speed" aviation system is developing across Europe, and that in the current climate further failures of European airlines and airports are "very likely".

European air traffic growth is expected to average just 1.8% per year through to 2035, ACI Europe says.