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The 15 Busiest Airports In Europe Without US Flights – Simple Flying

Here’s the full list.
Next summer, some 54 airports across Europe will have non-stop US flights, based on the latest Cirium data. They include Aalborg and Gothenburg, and the likes of Dubrovnik, Rzeszów, and Tenerife South. Based on Gothenburg's total departing flights next summer, it ranks 90th in Europe, while Aalborg is 172. It raises the question: what about the busiest European airports without US service? (Some airports, like Belfast International, have a tiny number of US flights and are excluded.)
The following table lists Europe's 15 busiest airports without any US flights next summer. Some readers may disagree with Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen being included as it's on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, but that's up to them. I've included Turkey as Europe.
Sabiha Gökçen is the busiest European airport without any US service. It ranks 16th in Europe, meaning the continent's largest 15 airports have non-stops. Unlike many in the top 15 table, Sabiha Gökçen has never had a US route. In comparison, some have had them until only very recently.
For example, Hungary's capital, Budapest, had LOT Polish flights to JFK until September 2022, but they aren't returning next summer. Previously, Budapest-JFK had Malev, Delta, and American. Meanwhile, Norway's Bergen had United flights from Newark between May and September 2022, motivated by the absence of Norwegian routes to JFK and Stewart, but they also aren't returning in 2023.

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To determine ranking by departing flights, I've used Cirium data, while US Department of Transportation information was used to work if they've had flights before or not since 1990.
Airport
Rank in Europe in summer 2023
Departing flights
US service since 1990?

Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen
16
68,496
No

London Stansted
24
54,054
Various occasions, most recently in 2018

Moscow Domodedovo
30
41,738
2008-2016

Hamburg
35
35,433
Various occasions, most recently in 2018

Alicante
37
33,696
No

London Luton
38
32,736
2006-2008, 2015-2016

Gran Canaria
39
32,717
No

Moscow Vnukovo
41
29,276
2013-2015

Milan Bergamo
42
28,663
No

Marseille
44
28,384
2013-2014

Budapest
45
28,155
Various occasions, most recently in 2022

Bucharest
47
28,110
Various occasions, most recently in 2009

Ibiza
49
27,196
No

Bergen
51
27,098
Various occasions, most recently in 2022

St Petersburg
53
25,838
Most recently 1997-2000

Of course, just because an airport is relatively big and busy doesn't mean it should or would have US service. The two aren't automatically linked. After all, what makes it busy? Is it mainly ULCC passengers or inbound tourism from across Europe? Does it really revolve around domestic flights? Nonetheless, it is intriguing.
There are many factors to consider, including the existing and potential future demand and the nature of that demand, the size and economic strength of the area to support traffic and fares for long-haul service, bilaterals (not a problem for EU airports given US open skies), and suitable and willing airlines.
Then there's appropriate aircraft, sufficient infrastructure, financial and other incentives, partnerships, nearby airports with US non-stops, and more. As always, an opportunity must be considered against alternative uses of an aircraft.

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London Stansted is Europe's 24th busiest airport. It is, of course, nearly entirely about Ryanair. Still, because of its location relatively near London, long runway, slot availability (generally), and lower charges compared with more well-known London airports, it has had US routes on various 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 fateful 2001); and, in the 1990s, El Al to JFK and Newark and American to Chicago.
Which airports would you like to gain US non-stops? Let us know in the comment section.
Route Development Analyst – James lives and breathes route development. Educated in Air Transport Management at Loughborough and Cranfield, James was Market Opportunity Analyst at London Luton Airport and Chief Analyst at anna.aero. Now writing data-driven analysis for Simple Flying. Based near London, UK.

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