Commercial flights in December 2021: closest yet to 2019 figures - Products Eurostat News

null Commercial flights in December 2021: closest yet to 2019 figures


© Alexey Y. Petrov /

In December 2021, the number of commercial flights in the EU increased by 130% compared with December 2020. However this is still below the pre-pandemic levels (-24% compared with December 2019). 

In absolute terms, the number of commercial flights stood at 383 720 in December 2021, compared with 166 990 in December 2020 and 504 270 in December 2019. 


Bar graph: Commercial flights in the EU in 2020 and 2021, % change compared with previous year and number of flights

Source dataset: avia_tf_cm


The air transport industry has been slowly recovering throughout 2021. Although the first months of 2021 showed no signs of recovery: January (-68% compared with same month in 2019), February (-73%), March (-71%) and April (-70%), the situation started to change in May (-67%), June (-54%) and August (-31%). September saw a small dip (-33%), but October (-30%), November (-26%) and December (-24%) saw the closest return to pre-pandemic figures yet.  

The EU countries with the lowest decreases in commercial flights in December 2021 were Croatia (-6% compared with December 2019), Greece (-8%) and Cyprus (-9%). In contrast, flights decreased by more than 40% only in Czechia and Austria (both -41%). The rest recorded decreases of less than a third. 


Bar graph: Commercial flights December 2021 compared with December 2019, % change, in the EU and EFTA countries

Source dataset: avia_tf_cm


Overall, when comparing 2019 with 2021, the country showing the most signs of recovery in terms of number of commercial flights was Greece (-29%), followed by Cyprus (-38%) and Luxembourg (-39%). On the other hand, Ireland showed the least signs of recovery (-64%), followed by Slovenia and Czechia (both -62%). 

Furthermore, some EU airports recorded increases in the number of commercial flights compared with 2019. The largest increases in the number of commercial flights were recorded in Berlin Brandeburg (+13 521, +16%), Liege (+6 972, +21%) and  Paris Le Bourget (+2 715, +8%). At the other end of the scale, the largest decreases in the number of commercial flights were recorded in major European air transport hubs: München (-261 020, -64%), Frankfurt/Main (-250 712, -49%) and Paris Charles de Gaulle (-247 959, -50%). 


For more information:    

  • The source of this monthly data on commercial flights is Eurocontrol, a pan-European, civil-military organisation dedicated to supporting European aviation. Data on commercial flights include scheduled and non-scheduled commercial flights (passengers, freight and mail) performed under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). For more information, please refer to the methodological file.
  • Attention to methodological differences should be paid when comparing this monthly data with Eurostat data on passenger, freight and mail air transport collected within Regulation 437/2003. For more information about Eurostat data collection, please refer to this methodological file.

To contact us, please visit our User Support page.

For press queries, please contact our Media Support.