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London Heathrow airport held onto its status as Europe’s busiest hub last year with a pack of four challengers almost neck-and-neck in the competition for second place, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Moscow Sheremetyevo joined the regional top 10 at the expense of Rome’s Fiumicino terminal, spurred by a surge in soccer fans attending the World Cup finals, and Munich overtook a London Gatwick held back by its sole runway.
Heathrow remains almost 8 million passengers ahead of Paris Charles de Gaulle after carriers used bigger jets to maximize returns from the U.K. hub’s two crowded runways. The French facility, Amsterdam Schiphol, Frankfurt — rebounding from the loss of Air Berlin in 2016 with the highest growth in 23 years — and Istanbul Ataturk are separated by barely 4 million customers.
A new airport in Istanbul, designed to handle 90 million passengers a year by 2020, will ramp up flights from March and may pose the biggest threat to Heathrow, which won’t benefit from a $22 billion third runway until 2025. The U.K. hub closed for an hour on Jan. 9 amid drone sightings near its runways, with Gatwick suffering a more extensive shutdown before Christmas.
The World Cup tournament, which spanned a month from mid June, lured more than 5 million visitors to Russia, according to news agency Tass, with more than half traveling via Moscow. Spanish capital Madrid posted the second-fastest growth.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.