Eurocontrol issued a new forecast regarding air traffic throughout Europe. According to the authority, the situation “is quickly deteriorating” and the air traffic levels will be about 64% lower until June 2021 compared to the pre-pandemic period. 

A new set of traffic scenarios released by Eurocontrol on January 28, 2021, showed that the demand for air travel will be still highly affected by new waves of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The risks associated with new strains of the virus may lead the governments of European countries to continue imposing strict measures regarding air travel rules. As a result of restrictions, European air carriers will be likely forced to further reduce their capacities accordingly.

Eamonn Brennan, the Director-General at Eurocontrol, outlined that February and March 2021 would be “exceptionally low” months regarding air traffic levels across the European network. However, the demand for cargo operations will likely show stronger results.

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“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,” Brennan quoted in the statement.

The European authority predicts that the overall situation in Europe may improve if the epidemiological situation will improve and the most vulnerable citizens across states will have been vaccinated. The partial relaxation of national travel restriction measures during Q2 2021 could result in air traffic drop by around 55% until June 2021 in comparison to 2019 levels. 

“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,“ Brennan said.

However, following a more pessimistic scenario, even if the epidemiological situation has improved by Q2 2021 but the majority of countries will choose to continue on the imposition of air travel restriction measures, the air traffic levels are expected to remain low until at least 3Q 2021 with traffic numbers down by 79%.

“It is also reasonable to expect that [...] 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,” Brennan added.

“If that’s the case, then we’re still looking at -70% by June [2021].”