Eurocontrol reports flattening in airline traffic recovery curve

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Eurocontrol has observed a slowing in the growth rate of flight numbers in Europe since mid-July.

Eurocontrol has observed a slowing in the growth rate of flight numbers in Europe since mid-July.

“The curve appears to be flattening,” it says in its latest coronavirus impact-assessment report. “We have observed significantly slower growth rates than at the beginning of July.”

The European air traffic management body cites “new cases [of coronavirus] in some countries”, which has “led to travel restrictions being continued or re-imposed”.

This is likely to “slow down the recovery”, it adds, highlighting the example of the UK imposing quarantine restrictions on travellers from Spain.

There were 14,911 flights in Eurocontrol air space on 29 July, the report says, up 5% compared with 15 July and some 42% of the flights seen on the same day of 2019.

Intra-European operations dominated the traffic flow on 29 July, accounting for 12,730 flights.

All traffic flows increased over the past two weeks, Eurocontrol notes, except those to the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East. Flows between Europe and the North Atlantic increased by 8%, but intercontinental traffic levels were still 74% below 2019 levels.

Ryanair was the busiest carrier on 29 July with 895 flights, followed by EasyJet with 610, Turkish Airlines with 602, Air France with 434 and Wizz Air with 429.

Commercial airlines accounted for around 72% of flights in the Eurocontrol network, with those by low-cost airlines 65% down year-on-year and network carrier operations some 68% lower. All-cargo flights were slightly above 2019 levels, Eurocontrol notes, with business aviation recovering “much faster” than the commercial sector.

Eurocontrol’s latest assumption is that overall traffic will peak at 60% of 2019 levels after mid-August, but it notes uncertainties around “state restrictions”.

Eurocontrol’s data follows the latest commercial passenger market assessment from IATA, which suggested the global recovery going into August was lagging forecasts and “surprisingly weak”.

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