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Many European Airports are at Risk of becoming Saturated

By Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The proliferation of low cost airline companies appears to be one of the basic reasons for the steadily increasing air traffic. The growing number of young retirees and active healthy pensioners, at least in industrialized countries, is another relevant explanation of the high demand in this sector. And the very visible outcome of the significant rise in air travel for tourism and business purposes is the increasing congestion at European airports. It is estimated that almost half of Europe's 50 largest airports have already reached saturation point in terms of ground capacity. It is worth pointing out, as forecasts often run the risk of being disproved by events, that numerous experts had as early as 1998 accurately forecasted that at least 20 of the largest hubs in Europe would be completely saturated by 2030, including London and Frankfurt. Today, we have to mention among the other airports at saturation level, Paris, Athens, Vienna and Barcelona. This issue is also very sensitive in Switzerland and mainly concerns the 2 largest airports in the country: Zürich should reach 45.8 million passengers -an increase of 46% in comparison with 2013- and Geneva should reach 25.3 million passengers -an increase of 43.5% in comparison with 2013-. Consequently, the relevant authorities will urgently have to optimize the traffic management in particular on the ground. Indeed, it is also estimated that about 70% of all flight delays are caused by problems on the ground at airports, not in the air. But, of course, it is the search for a consensus with people living in close proximity to these airport hubs which will constitute the biggest challenge for the coming years: fighting noise and traffic pollution will be at the heart of the debate.

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