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French regional airports more resilient in 2021 than Parisian tarmacs


Written by Eric Apim on Tuesday, March 15th 2022 à 15:00 | Read 250 times



The Covid-19 had led to the cancellation of many flights, mainly international (photo: F.Dubessy)
The Covid-19 had led to the cancellation of many flights, mainly international (photo: F.Dubessy)
FRANCE. An increase of 29.5% compared to 2020 and a decrease of 57.7% compared to 2019. These two figures published by the Union of French and Associated Francophone Airports (UAF & FA) on Thursday 11 March 2022, sum up the effect of Covid-19 on the 2021 traffic of French airports.

The French tarmacs welcomed 90.67 million commercial passengers in 2021 (1.11 aircraft movements) compared to more than 214 million in 2019 and 70 million in 2020.

"After a very hard year of crisis for French airports in 2020, traffic is picking up again, even if it is still far from its 2019 level, the reference year," says UAF & FA. At the European level, according to ACI Europe (Council of International Airports), traffic was down 59.0% (-64.6% for EU members and -34.4% for non-members) compared to 2019 and up 36.9% compared to 2019.

Low cost and domestic flights more resilient

Passenger traffic growth in 2021 has not been uniform across France (map: UAF & FA)
Passenger traffic growth in 2021 has not been uniform across France (map: UAF & FA)
The two Parisian airports remain at the top of the French ranking with respectively 26.19 million passengers for Charles-de-Gaulle and 15.72 million for Orly, i.e. almost half of total French traffic (49.9% compared to 53.6% in 2019). The others in mainland France have, on the other hand, shown a better resilience with a return of 45.1% of their 2019 traffic compared to only 38.8% for those in the capital. Nice Côte d'Azur takes third place nationally (6.54 million passengers), followed by Marseille Provence (4.66 million), Lyon-Saint Exupéry (4.52 million) and Toulouse-Blagnac (3.82 million).

Regional airports (with more than 5 million annual passengers) show the smallest decrease in 2021 (-40.6%). This is due to more domestic traffic taking off again more quickly, while international traffic is down sharply (-64.4% compared to 2019).

Similarly, low-cost flights (50% of total traffic at 21 airports compared with 15 in 2019) have boosted traffic at these hubs. Although they represent on average less than 40% of traffic in mainland France (33 million passengers), they account for 56.3% of traffic at regional airports and 54.2% at major regional airports. This does not include Carcassonne Sud de France, Béziers - Cap d'Agde Hérault Occitanie, and Paris - Beauvais, where low-cost airlines account for more than 99% of their traffic.
Low cost airlines have only seen a 53.8% reduction in passengers in 2021 compared with 2019, compared with 60.7% over the same period for traditional airlines.

Air freight has already returned to its pre-crisis level, despite a drop in the freight carried in the holds of passenger aircraft. In 2021, French airports handled 2.5 million tonnes (including 2 million for the Paris hubs), i.e. an increase of 0.5% compared to 2019.

Paris airports still account for half of the traffic in France (data: UAF & FA)
Paris airports still account for half of the traffic in France (data: UAF & FA)



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