Air France KLM
An Air France Airbus A320 airplane lands at the Charles-de-Gaulle in France. Paris was among the airports that took a hit from pandemic-related curbs. Image Credit: Reuters

Passenger traffic at European airports in April was the closest to a full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic of any month so far despite sharp hikes in air fares, Airports Council International (ACI) Europe said on Wednesday.

The trade association representing European airports said passenger traffic rose 21.1 per cent in April from a year earlier.

That was still 7.6 per cent below April 2019, ACI said, but an improvement on the 10.6 per cent decline across the first quarter from pre-pandemic levels.

The news will likely please airport operators such as Aeroports de Paris and airlines such as Air France and Lufthansa, which took a hit from pandemic-related travel curbs.

The ACI said April marked the “closest yet” to a full recovery in traffic from the pandemic, helped by demand over the Easter holidays.

“This is quite remarkable when the increase in air fares is more than six times above consumer price inflation,” ACI Europe Director General Olivier Jankovec said in a statement.

Nevertheless, European airports’ performances varied significantly, with less than half of them fully recovering their pre-pandemic passenger volumes.

While Icelandic, Cypriot, Greek, and Portuguese airports among others exceeded pre-COVID levels, those in Slovenia, Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were the furthest from fully rebounding.