Some 366 million people booked flights with airlines based in Europe during 2008, figures from the Association of European Airlines (AEA) have revealed.
Despite the figure being 5.4 million fewer than in 2007, the AEA has warned that the airline industry is "not yet at the bottom of the cycle".
According to the association, the number of kilometres travelled by passengers was up 1.2 percent – despite fewer numbers booking flights.
Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, AEA’s secretary general, said that the low figure had only been seen on three occasions in the last 25 years.
"In 1986, when Chernobyl and the US bombing of Libya caused major disruptions in travel patterns, in 1991 when the first Gulf War had a similar effect, and in 2001-02 following the 9/11 attacks," he said.
"This time the upheavals are economic, and likely to be more powerful and longer-lasting than the external shocks of the past."
AEA figures also revealed a decline in every flight area apart from Europe-Middle East, which enjoyed an increase in passenger traffic of 6.3 percent since December 2007.
The AEA announced in January that Dr. Ivan Misetic, chief executive officer of Croatian Airlines, had become its new chairman.