Germany's Frankfurt Airport expects its core profit for 2023 to return to the stratosphere, thanks largely to the reopening of China's borders after the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The airport's operator, Fraport Group, said it now anticipates its profits will be at the higher end of a range of earlier projections.
The company said the better-than-expected performance was down to strong second-quarter earnings boosted by resurgent demand - especially from Chinese travelers.
"Passengers with high purchasing power are coming back," the Reuters news agency quoted Fraport's finance chief, Matthias Zieschang, as saying.
He added that the airport expected the good news to continue, with a "huge and significant" increase in the number of Chinese passengers traveling through Frankfurt next year that could mean the European travel hub returns to around 90 percent of its pre-pandemic level of business.
Earlier this year, Frankfurt Airport had been running at around 40 percent of its pre-pandemic level.
The company said the number of passengers traveling through the airport grew by 29 percent during the first half of 2023, and hit 87 percent of its pre-pandemic volume during July.
Fraport said the number of passengers traveling through the airport to and from China reached 39 percent of the pre-pandemic levels during the second quarter, which was double the volume seen during the first quarter.
"We expect very good and solid growth in 2024," Zieschang said.
In total, around 70.6 million people traveled through Frankfurt Airport in 2019. Fraport expects the total to return to close to that level in 2024, with 66 million passengers predicted.
German-owned Fraport operates 28 airports around the world and is expecting its profits before deductions to be in the high end of a range approaching 1.2 billion euros ($1.32 billion).
The company said its net profit will likely be in the upper half of a range between 300 million euros and 420 million euros.
Fraport said leisure travelers have fueled the renewed use of its airports, with people especially interested in warm destinations in Greece, the Caribbean, and North Africa.
It said business travel within Europe has also started to improve, especially to and from Europe's financial hubs, such as Frankfurt.
Travel to and from North America has virtually returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Stefan Schulte, Fraport's CEO, told the Associated Press news agency the positive performance has built throughout the year.
"We are seeing sustained recovery in passenger demand across our portfolio of global airports," he said. "At our home base in Frankfurt, passenger numbers recovered to 80 percent of pre-crisis levels in the first half of 2023. We expect passenger traffic to further grow at Frankfurt Airport during the full year — including a rise in the share of business travelers."