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European Airport Network

Today's private aviation provides us with truly incredible travel options. In the running time of today's Hollywood blockbuster, we can cross half a continent and, instead of the closing credits, enjoy a view of the majestic slopes of Etna or perhaps the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands.

Many would certainly argue that they can travel just as well by traditional scheduled flights, and in the case of Sicily they might be right, however, there are many corners of the "Old Continent" that are not served by regular flights. Let us therefore take a closer look at the European airport network.

A bit of Statistics

All across Europe (excluding the Russian Federation) we find a total of 3683 airports1. This number may seem high, but it is hardly painting us the whole picture. Of these three and a half thousand airports, only about 300 are served by regular scheduled flights. Yet still we need to delve deeper. For simplicity, let's look at the case of Germany. The Federal Republic is served by a total of 539 airports. Of these, 29 have regularly scheduled domestic and international flights. Of the remaining approximately 500 airports, 200 are unpaved, or otherwise unsuitable for landing private aircraft (they are mostly small club airports maintaining the traditional culture of gliders in Germany). That leaves about 300 airports that we have available for a private flight, compared to a scheduled flight. We can trace the same trend across Europe. There are ten times as many airports available for private aviation as there are those serviced by scheduled flights.

A surprising void

In the first paragraph, I mentioned that there are parts of Europe that you can’t easily reach with scheduled flights. I will mention one here that took me by surprise - the regions of central France - namely Auvergne and Limousin. These historical regions have a rich culture and no less fascinating natural attractions, the Puy de Dôme volcanic mound or the Lac de Guéry lake are undoubtedly worth seeing. History lovers will be amazed by Château de Murol and the historic city of Clermont-Ferrand. And despite all that, and France being the cradle of aviation, the nearest airport is in Lyon, some 200 kilometers away. That is, of course, unless you are traveling by a private jet, then you can land comfortably in Clermont.


1Data for 2022 - https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/field/airports/


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