Air Traffic in Europe will deteriorate during the first quarter. It is reasonably assumed that a significant improvement will only be visible from April and onwards, according to the latest short-term forecast data from Eurocontrol.
The European air traffic management body says today that any recovery going into 2021’s summer season depends on whether the second quarter of the year, governments will start to relax travel restrictions.
Before that point, the present situation is “a complete disaster for European aviation”, according to Eurocontrol director general Eamonn Brennan, as countries impose stricter border controls amid concerns about new Covid-19 strains.
February and March will be “exceptionally low across the network, except for cargo, some business traffic and skeleton scheduled services”, he says.
In February, flight numbers are expected to decrease by 72-74% comparing to 2019 levels, while for March they are expected to be 72-77% lower.
Brennan, states that “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.”
Indeed, April is the decision point in Eurocontrol’s forecast; the month where its two scenarios significantly diverge.
A first, more optimistic scenario outlook foresees a partial improvement in traffic during the second quarter, with some relaxation of travel restrictions.
A second, more pessimistic scenario forecasts no improvement during the second quarter, as travel restrictions remain in place, pushing any “reasonable” recovery in air travel until the third quarter at least.
Under the first scenario, traffic would be down 68% on 2019 numbers in April, while under the second it would be down 78%.
If the optimistic scenario plays out, air traffic would be 55% down on 2019 flight numbers come June, with the third quarter expected to deliver further improvements.