Air passenger transport - monthly statistics

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Data extracted in April 2021.

Planned article update: May 2022

Highlights

Commercial flights in the EU dropped by 91.2% in April 2020.

In the first half of 2020, air passenger transport in the EU decreased by 65.5% compared to 2019.

In the second quarter of 2020, air passenger transport decreased by more than 90% compared to 2019 in all EU Member States.



Figure 1: Commercial air flights, EU, January-June 2020
(% change compared to the same period of the previous year)
Source: European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) (avia_tf_cm)


This article describes the recent monthly development of commercial air flights and passenger transport by air in the European Union (EU), as well as in the EFTA countries Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and in the Candidate countries Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey. A distinction is made between national (domestic), intra and extra-EU transport, and the article also looks at the evolution of airport traffic.

Full article

April 2020 showed the greatest decline in commercial flights in the EU.

To prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries around the world have taken a variety of restrictive measures since the beginning of 2020. The air transport industry was severely hit.

The first impact was visible in March 2020, with a 44.1 % decrease in the total number of commercial flights (passengers, freight and mail) in the EU compared with the same month in 2019 (Figure 1). COVID-19 restrictions led to a substantial fall in the number of commercial flights in April (-91.2 % compared to the same month in 2019), May (-89.8 %) and June (-84.2 %).


Figure 1: Commercial air flights, EU, January-June 2020
(% change compared to the same period of the previous year)
Source: European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) (avia_tf_cm)


In the first half of 2020, air passenger transport in the EU decreased by 65.5 % compared to 2019.

In March 2020 the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic became evident in air passenger transport. The number of air passengers carried dropped by 54.6 % compared to the previous month (Figure 2) and dropped by a further 96.9% in April to only 900 000 passengers compared to March.

In the first quarter of 2020, international extra-EU transport represented more than half of all passengers carried at EU level (52 %), followed by intra-EU transport (31 %) and national transport (17 %). In comparison, in the 2nd quarter, when the effects of the COVID-19 were already visible, the breakdown was different with 33 % for national, 29 % for intra-EU and 38 % for extra-EU transport of passengers. As the number of passengers was very low in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter, the repartition of the type of transport for the overall first six months of 2020 was very similar to that of the first quarter (51 % for extra-EU, 31 % for intra-EU and 18 % for national).


Figure 2: Air passengers transport, EU, January 2019-June 2020
(million passengers carried)
Source: Eurostat (avia_paoc)

Figure 3 shows that an increase in passenger transport was registered for every month of 2019 compared to the same month of the previous year. This increase range from +2.4 % in November to +6.2 % in April 2019. The first two months of 2020 also showed a rise compared to the same period in 2019. In contrast, in March 2020 a sharp drop in passenger traffic occurred and the number of passengers decreased by 61.6 % compared to the same month of 2019. Following this sharp drop in March and April, the number of passengers increased in May and reached around 5 million in June 2020, which was still 95.2 % lower than in June 2019.


Figure 3: Air passengers transport, EU, January 2019-June 2020
(% change compared to the same period of the previous year)
Source: Eurostat (avia_paoc)

All EU Member States registered a dramatic decline in air passenger transport in the first half of 2020

The number of passengers transported by air decreased significantly in all EU countries in the first half of 2020: from -60.9 % (Hungary) to -83.3 % (Croatia) (Table 1).

When looking at the first quarter of 2020, all reporting countries registered a drop in the number of passengers. Among the EU Member states, this varied from -11.7 % in Hungary to -44.0 % in Slovenia when comparing to the same quarter of the previous year. In this period, only Slovenia (-44 %) and Italy (-32 %), as well as Iceland (-39 %) registered a drop of more than 30 %.

In the 2nd quarter of 2020, all participating countries registered a decrease of 95 % or more compared to the same period in 2019 with the exception of three countries: Serbia (-94.3 %), Bulgaria (-91.2 %) and Norway (-89.7 %). Six countries saw their number of passengers carried dropping by more than 99 %.


Table 1: Air passengers transport, January 2019-June 2020
(thousand passengers carried)
Source: Eurostat (avia_paoc)

All top EU 30 airports were severely affected by flight restrictions

Table 2 presents the evolution of air passenger transport in the top 30 EU airports. The ranking of the airports was established based on the total annual passengers carried in 2019.

In the first half of 2020, air passenger transport for all airports in the top 30 declined, reflecting the trends observed at country level. Typical tourist destinations seem to have suffered the most from COVID-19 travel restrictions. Palma de Mallorca was the most impacted airport in the first half of 2020 with a decreased of 80.8 % compared to the corresponding period in 2019. At Roma/Fiumicino, Malaga/Costa del Sol and Alicante the number of passengers also decreased sharply, by almost 70 %. Less but still strongly impacted airports were Budapest/Liszt Ferenc International (-60.7 %), Lisboa (-61.3 %), Paris -Charles de Gaulle (-61.4 %) and Madrid/Barajas (-61.5 %).

In the first quarter of 2020, the Italian airports Roma/Fiumicino (-34.2 %), Milano/Malpenza (-31.4 %) and Bergamo/Orio al Serio (-28.1 %), as well as the German airport Berlin/Tegel (-28.6 %) registered the largest drops compared to the same period in 2019.

In the second quarter of 2020, Paris-Orly was the most impacted airport, with the number of passengers dropping by 99.4 %. All top 30 airports however were severely affected by flight restrictions with decreases of more than 90 % in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Furthermore, Paris/Orly had no air passenger transport in April and May 2020 and Bergamo/Orio al Serio had no air passenger transport in April 2020 and only 388 passengers in May 2020.


Table 2: Top 30 EU airports, January 2019-June 2020
(thousand passengers carried)
Source: Eurostat (avia_paoa)

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

Definition of 'passengers carried'

All passengers on a particular flight are counted once only and not repeatedly on each individual stage of that flight. This excludes direct transit passengers.

Exclusion of double counting

The national transport (included in total transport at country level) and intra-EU transport aggregates (included in total transport at EU level) were calculated excluding double counting by taking into account only departure declarations.

Notes on some reporting countries

  • Turkey: only provides flight stage data (Dataset A1 of the Regulation) (with no information on passengers carried) and airport declarations (Dataset C1) in which the partner airport is not provided (exclusion of double counting is therefore not possible). The sum of all Turkish airport declarations (available in avia_tf_apal) is used in this publication. As a consequence the national total presented in Table 1 is overestimated ().

Context

The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the air transport statistics Regulation (EC) No 437/2003 on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of passengers, freight and mail by air.

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Air transport (t_avia)
Air transport of passengers (ttr00012)
Air transport of goods (ttr00011)
Air transport (avia)
Air transport measurement - passengers (avia_pa)
Air transport measurement - freight and mail (avia_go)