If passenger demand in Europe keeps growing at 4.5% a year, airports will severely constrain traffic growth well before 2025, according to a Eurocontrol/ European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) study Challenges to Growth.

With movements expected to increase by a factor of 2.5 by 2025, says the study, demand will exceed airport capacity by 3.5 million flights a year even if airport capacity on the continent were to rise by 60% compared with 2003 levels (Flight International, 2-8 November). But without additional runways or airports that increase would be impossible, says Eurocontrol.

Among Europe's top 133 airports, 75% see no prospect of being allowed to build an additional runway in the next 20 years. The capacity of the top 133 airports is 4,616 instrument flight rules (IFR) movements an hour with 3,334 (72%) now in use. Spare capacity is mostly at small airports, those that handle between 20 and 59 IFR movements an hour and which could increase traffic by about 50%.

David Marsh, head of Eurocontrol's statistical division, says that while the top 10 European airports have maintained their share of traffic at about 24% over the past 10 years, this dominance is expected to decline.

Source: Flight International