London Heathrow has been toppled from its ranking as the number one airport in Europe for direct connectivity, according to a new report from Airports Council International (ACI) Europe.
Amsterdam's Schiphol airport has flown past the capital's biggest airport to take the top spot, with Frankfurt, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Istanbul Ataturk making up the top five airports offering the highest levels of direct connectivity.
It marks a stark jump for the Netherlands airport, which has propelled from its sixth position in 2007, led partly by its hub connectivity gains, but also the fact that low-cost carriers now account for 21 per cent of the airport's direct connectivity.
Heathrow's decrease in direct connectivity is predominantly due to a lack of airport capacity. The airport got the go-ahead for a third runway from the government back in October.
ACI Europe's airport industry connectivity report found that for the second year in a row, direct connectivity is growing at a faster rate than indirect and hub connectivity. ACI Europe said this reflected the expansion of low-cost carriers on both short- and medium-haul markets and "the relative retrenchment of network carriers".
Frankfurt is still the highest-ranked airport for hub connectivity in the world, with Amsterdam in second, then Dallas-Fort Worth, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Atlanta. However, Middle East and Asian airports have been fast-growing, which ACI says is "driving hub dynamics".
Abu Dhabi has been the fastest growing hub since 2007, followed by Delhi and Guangzhou, and while none of them yet feature in the top 20 global hubs, the report said their rise is "emblematic of the shift" happening in global aviation towards the Gulf and Asia.
Airport competition in general has developed with the expansion of low-cost carriers. ACI noted that over the past 10 years, 99 per cent of the growth in passenger traffic of the top 20 European airports has been delivered by low-cost carriers.
Olivier Jankovec, ACI Europe's director general, said:
The low-cost revolution is marching on – and nothing will stop it.
Low-cost carriers have moved into larger airports and hubs, and they are now making inroads into the long-haul market.
Europe’s airports will see 87 long-haul routes being operated by low-cost carriers this summer, up from 14 just four years ago.
The next step – which Ryanair has just started experimenting, is to offer feed to network carriers or even develop their own connecting product.