Support Skift’s Independent Journalism

More travel professionals get their industry news from Skift’s trusted editors and reporters than any other source.

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.

Richard Weiss, ©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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.

This article was written by Richard Weiss from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Photo Credit: Aircraft taxiing at Heathrow airport. The London airport is the busiest in Europe. Heathrow airport