London Heathrow Airport lost first place among the busiest European airports for 2020, as restrictions related to the Coronavirus prevented passengers from traveling.
Istanbul’s new airport, which was completed in the spring of 2019, attracted 23.4 million passengers in its first full operational year, bypassing Heathrow Airport, through which passenger traffic collapsed by 73%.
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, the second busiest airport in Europe in 2019, ranked third, but very close to its London rival. However, the results of the Paris airport were until November, and it is expected to announce its data for the whole year soon, which may change the position of its ranking and push it to second place.
Effects of the Pandemic and Shutdowns
The coronavirus outbreak and the resulting travel restrictions have hit European airlines’ activity since March. The easing of restrictions that was starting to take effect suffered a devastating blow with the emergence of more contagious strains of Corona in Britain and other countries. The re-quarantine of travelers to Britain, and the amendment of the list of countries exempt from some measures according to what is known as the “travel corridor”, discouraged travel to London. The British government further tightened travel procedures last week, halting all flights from South America, and expanding quarantine conditions for those coming from all countries.
While most Western European airports, from Frankfurt to Amsterdam to Barcelona, saw a decrease in passenger traffic by 70% or more last year, Istanbul and Moscow airports experienced fewer drops, which was reflected in the ranking of the most active European airports.