Airport traffic in Europe tipped to double by 2040
Passenger traffic at Europe's airports is set to more than double by 2040 to 4.5 billion, according to the airports body ACI Europe.
But it warned the fact that low-cost carriers are driving passenger growth "comes with significant pressure on aeronautical revenues" at airports, with 90pc of Europe's airports offering discounts to attract, retain and grow air traffic.
Europe's airports handled 2.23 billion passengers last year, a record for the gateways.
In the past five years, the number of passengers using airports in the region rose by 513 million, according to ACI Europe. So far this year, passenger numbers are up 6.9pc year-on-year in Europe.
"That kind of growth comes with significant operational challenges and puts a lot of pressure on our staff and facilities," said Olivier Jankovec, director general of ACI Europe.
He said that increasing congestion at Europe's airports is a major issue, but that quality of service for passengers has largely improved.
Mr Jankovec added that the expected increase in passenger numbers by 2040 will come on the back of changing consumer behaviour precipitated by "ultra-mobile millennials and affluent and healthy retired baby boomers".
Aircraft evolution will also enable more direct connectivity developments, while in-bound demand from emerging markets will also result in passenger growth, he predicted.
"These new fundamentals are challenging the status of Europe as a mature aviation market," he said.
"They are pointing to significant growth potential in the medium to long-term. The fact that last year EU airports alone were the largest contributors to global aviation growth along with Chinese airports is already reflective of that."
But Mr Jankovec, speaking as ACI Europe held its annual congress in Brussels, warned that in the short-term downside risks including rising oil prices and trade wars "are testing the resilience of our growth dynamic".
Dublin Airport is among the gateways experiencing strong growth, bolstered by improved economic activity and new routes to destinations such as Hong Kong, Beijing and Seattle. Last year, the airport handled almost 30 million passengers.
A record 2.9 million passengers travelled through Dublin Airport in May, a 10pc increase over the same month last year. It was the 50th consecutive month of growth at the airport.
So far this year, almost 11.6 million passengers have travelled through Dublin Airport, a 6pc increase compared to the first five months of 2017.
Passenger numbers to and from continental Europe increased 12pc last month, to more than 1.5 million.
Almost 871,000 passengers travelled to and from UK destinations in May, an increase of 3pc compared to May last year.
Transatlantic traffic was 19pc higher last month at Dublin, at almost 383,000 passengers.
Other international traffic, principally to the Middle East and Africa, increased by 23pc to more than 69,000 passengers