Europe’s airports have been affected the worst by the pandemic. Dublin Airport in Ireland is leading the list. 

According to Eamonn Brennan, Director General of Eurocontrol, Dublin airport (DUB) was the most affected by the coronavirus crisis in Europe. In 2020, the traffic levels in Irish airports went down drastically, Dublin witnessed a traffic drop of 81%, while traffic in Cork Airport (ORK) and Shannon Airport (SNN) went down by 75% and 71% respectively.

Brennan urged the Irish government to agree on a long-term plan and support scheme for the country’s airports. “The aviation sector in Ireland cannot recover by itself. Airports such as Shannon need long-term financial support, over a five-year timeframe, to fund a reduction in, or elimination of, airport charges and the marketing funds that will be required to reinstate UK and EU routes, particularly connections to major hubs,” said Brennan. 

Some of the European Union countries, such as Germany, Poland, Cyprus, have already submitted aid schemes to support their airports under Temporary Framework rules approved by the European Commission, which enables European governments to support companies affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Since November 2020, when new travel restrictions have been reinforced, an estimate of 700 routes have disappeared from Irish and European airports, according to the Airports Council International Europe (ACIE). This brings the total number of vanished routes since the beginning of the pandemic to over 7,000. 

While the world has seen the global traffic drop by 52% of 2019 levels, Europe’s number of flights went down by 55%. In 2020, Europe has over half of the entire aircraft fleet parked and 191,000 aviation jobs were lost. There were 1.7 billion fewer passengers compared to the previous year.

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Ryanair forecasts a loss of around €1 billion in FY2021 and says that it will be “the most challenging year” in its 35-year operating history.