The 15 busiest airports in Europe without US flights | Popgen Tech


Next summer, some 54 airports across Europe will have nonstop American flights, based on the latest Cirium data. These include Aalborg and Gothenburg, and the likes of Dubrovnik, Rzeszów and Tenerife South. Based on Gothenburg’s total departures next summer, it is 90th in Europe, while Aalborg is 172nd. This begs the question: what about the busiest European airports without US service? (Some airports, such as Belfast International, have a small number of US flights and are excluded.)

The top 15 airports

The following table lists Europe’s 15 busiest airports without any US flights next summer. Some readers may not agree with Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen being included since it is on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, but that’s up to them. I included Turkey as Europe.


Sabiha Gökçen is the busiest European airport without any American service. It ranks 16th in Europe, which means that the continent has 15 non-stop airports. Unlike many in the top-15 table, Sabiha Gökçen has never had an American route. In comparison, some have had them until very recently.

For example, Hungary’s capital, Budapest, had MANY Polish flights to JFK until September 2022, but they are not returning next summer. Previously, Budapest-JFK had Malev, Delta and American. Meanwhile, Norwegian’s Bergen United had flights from Newark between May and September 2022, motivated by the absence of Norwegian routes to JFK and Stewart, but they are also not returning in 2023.

LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in flight

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

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To determine ranking by departing flights, I used Cirium data, while information from the US Department of Transportation was used to work out if they had had flights or not since 1990.

Of course, just because an airport is relatively large and busy doesn’t mean it should or will have American service. The two are not automatically linked. After all, what makes it busy? Is it mainly ULCC passengers or inbound tourism from all over Europe? Does it really revolve around domestic flights? Nevertheless, it is intriguing.

There are many factors to consider, including existing and potential future demand and the nature of that demand, the size and economic strength of the area to support traffic and tariffs for long-haul service, bilateral (not a problem for EU airports given US open skies), and suitable and willing airlines.

Then there are appropriate aircraft, adequate infrastructure, financial and other incentives, partnerships, nearby airports with American nonstop, and more. As always, an opportunity must be considered against alternative uses of an aircraft.

London Stansted Airport

Photo: London Stansted Airport.

London Stansted is Europe’s 24th busiest airport. It is of course almost entirely about Ryanair. However, due to its location relatively close to London, long runway, slot availability (generally) and lower charges compared to more famous London airports, it has had American routes on several occasions.

Most recently it had Primera to Newark, Boston and Washington Dulles, and Thomas Cook to Orlando and Las Vegas. Before that, American and Eos to JFK; MAXJet to JFK, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Washington Dulles; Continental to Newark (in fatal 2001); and, in the 1990s, El Al to JFK and Newark and American to Chicago.

Which airports do you want to see non-stop in the US? Let us know in the comments section.


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