New EUROCONTROL Traffic Scenarios factor in latest COVID impacts on European aviation


Air traffic throughout Europe is expected to be approximately 64% down in January 2021 compared to January 2019 and the situation is quickly deteriorating

EUROCONTROL has issued a new set of Traffic Scenarios for the period up to June 2021. Air traffic throughout Europe is expected to be approximately 64% down in January 2021 compared to January 2019 and the situation is quickly deteriorating.

In response to the latest waves of COVID and risks associated with new variants, many States across Europe are imposing stricter travel restrictions, which strongly discourage air travel unless it is for essential reasons only. As a result, demand for air travel is greatly suppressed and airlines are having to dramatically reduce their capacity accordingly.

Eamonn Brennan, Director General EUROCONTROL, said: “It is clear that the months of February and March will be exceptionally low across the network, except for cargo, some business traffic and skeleton schedule services. Even April is expected to perform very poorly with only a limited pick-up for the Easter period. Flights in Europe will probably only be around 25%-30% of normal. It is a complete disaster for European aviation – an industry that’s already on its knees.”

He further explained that, What remains unclear currently is the situation thereafter. It is reasonable to expect that the epidemiological situation will have improved in many European States by Q2 and that the most vulnerable citizens across Europe will have been vaccinated (despite delays in the roll-out). In turn, this could lead to the possibility for non-essential air travel to become more accessible, which would facilitate a small improvement during Q2, followed by a larger recovery in the summer period.

"If thats the case, then we could see levels around -55% of 2019 by June. However, it is also reasonable to expect that, even if the epidemiological situation has improved by Q2, many States may potentially choose not to relax their national travel restrictions, which will severely curtail demand and any possibility for air travel to improve until the summer period at the very earliest. If thats the case, then were still looking at -70% by June.

EUROCONTROL summarises the situation between now and the end of June 2021 as follows:

Scenario A. Partial improvement during Q2: The overall European situation improves, facilitating the partial relaxation of national travel restriction measures during Q2.

Scenario B. No improvement during Q2: Very limited improvements in the overall European situation and/or we see the continued imposition of national travel restriction measures preventing any reasonable improvement in air travel until at least Q3.