European airport passenger figures rose a second consecutive month in June in a sign the region’s aviation-industry traffic decline may have bottomed out.
The number of travelers passing through air terminals in the European Union rose 1.8 percent from a year earlier, Airports Council International Europe said in a statement today. That narrowed the traffic decline in the first six months of the year to 0.2 percent.
Europe’s prolonged debt crisis and unemployment have prompted businesses and individuals to curb travel. Airlines including Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the region’s biggest, are responding with reorganizations that include bundling short-haul routes into new divisions and eliminating jobs.
“Our traffic figures are pointing to a rather weak and gradual recovery for EU airports,” Olivier Jankovec, director general for the European arm of ACI, said in the statement. “This is consistent with the fact that economic sentiment across the euro-zone is generally improving.”
British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA said on Aug. 2 that revenue per passenger on its intra-European network advanced 8 percent in the first six months. Performance in the region was “a little bit of a surprise,” Chief Financial Officer Enrique Dupuy told analysts. The London-based company, which also owns Spanish carrier Iberia, reported second-quarter operating profit 245 million euros ($324 million) versus a year-earlier loss of 4 million euros
Lufthansa saw “very solid performance in Europe,” CFO Simone Menne told analysts Aug. 2 as the Cologne, Germany-based airline posted a 27 percent drop in operating profit to 431 million euros on stagnant sales of 7.89 billion euros. Bookings have been “very satisfying” as Lufthansa has shifted short-haul activity to its discount unit Germanwings, she said.
First-half traffic at airports tracked by ACI Europe rose 1.8 percent, driven by 9.8 percent growth at airports in non-EU countries. The June figure increased 3.4 percent.
Even so, “airlines are still not adding much capacity to the market, and freight traffic remains in recession, ” Jankovec said. Air-cargo tonnage in Europe fell 0.9 percent during the period, the trade group said.