Varying traffic recovery sees new airports enter Top 20, says m1nd-set

By Charlotte Turner |

As traffic recovery rates continue to vary by region, a number of new entries to the Top 20 airport and nationality rankings for international traffic have emerged, according to m1nd-set’s latest traffic analysis focus.


The leading industry insights agency, based in Vevey Switzerland, has released a global traffic analysis which compares pre-pandemic to current traffic levels, looking at how traffic has evolved between the first quarter of 2019 to Q1 2022.


The traffic analysis looks at the international departures for airports, airlines and nationalities, as well as how traffic between regions and intraregional traffic has evolved.


According to m1nd-set, there has been considerable movement in the rankings among the global airports, nationalities and airlines for international departures.



Peter Mohn, Owner & Chief Executive Officer at m1nd-set, commented: “The past two years of lockdowns and border closures have seen a significant reordering of the ranks in terms of leading nationalities and airports for international air traffic.



“Traffic forecasting has never been so dynamic due to the varying recovery rates, that are constantly affected by prolonged lockdowns and geopolitical events. In Q1 this year, IATA, who m1nd-set sources its air traffic and forecasting data from for its Business 1ntelligence Service (B1S), predicted that international air traffic would reach pre-pandemic levels in 2024.


“IATA has recently revised these forecasts, however and is now projecting pre-Covid levels will be achieved by 2023.”


The research highlights some of the winners in terms of traffic numbers and rankings among travelling nationalities.



While there has been little movement among the top five ranking countries for international departure nationalities – the US, UK, Germany, France and Spain were already among the top-ranking nationalities in 2019 – there are several new entrants among the top 20 nationalities for international departures.


Ireland, Mexico, Belgium, Turkey, Brazil, Portugal, Denmark and Sweden have all moved into the top 20.


As far as airports are concerned, Cancun, New York JFK, Miami and Dublin Airports have all seen significant positive change in the rankings for international departures between Q1 2019 and the 2022.

Cancun rose from 42nd to 9th position, with a 103% recovery rate on Q1 2019 traffic. New York JFK climbed from 21st to 10th place, Miami from 29th to 11th position while Dublin Airport, previously in 25th position in Q1 2019 was the 12th largest airport for international departures in Q1 this year.


Four of the top five airports in Q1 2022 – Dubai, Amsterdam, London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle – were already among the top ten in Q1 2019. Dubai Airport recovered just over 60% of its international departure traffic, Amsterdam and Paris just below 60% and London Heathrow was at 50% of pre-Covid levels in Q1 this year.



Istanbul however has recovered 75% of its pre-Covid traffic levels, rising from 12th position in Q1 2019 to fifth position during the first quarter of this year.


The research also reveals that international traffic to the Asia Pacific region declined quite considerably, by 18%, from 21% to 3% over the three-year period. The decline among intraregional traffic within the Asia Pacific region was even steeper, falling 42% from 72% in Q1 2019 to 30% in Q1 this year.


International traffic recovery in Asia Pacific was only at 14% in Q1 this year, compared to the Q1 2019 figure. This is significantly lower than for other world regions where international traffic recovery ranges from 60-70%.


Among the airlines, Ryanair, which has lost 17% of passengers over the period, is still the world’s leading airline in terms of international passengers. Emirates Airways is still in second place despite losing 49% of its passengers over the three-year period.



Turkish Airlines, which lost 21% of passengers between Q1 2019 and Q1 2022, has risen three places in the global airline rankings for international passengers to third place. EasyJet fell one place from 3rd to 4th position, with 50% less passengers, American Airlines and Qatar Airways both rose four places to fifth and sixth positions respectively, each losing around 20% of their international passengers.


Mohn added: “Subscribers to m1nd-set’s B1S traffic and shopper insights tool can observe the projected increase in international traffic at specific destinations with a high purchase rate of their category and monitor how typical shopper profiles of that category are behaving differently over the past three years.


“This is particularly interesting where specific shopper segments have changed their visiting, browsing and/or purchasing behaviour such as purchase drivers, the importance of sustainable values, or desire to interact with staff for example.”


More information on the traffic analysis research and airport, airline and nationality rankings can be obtained from m1nd-set by writing to [email protected].

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