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 immediately affected by these measures.
The first impact was visible in March 2020, with a 44% decrease in the total number of commercial flights (passengers, freight and mail) in the EU compared with the same month in 2019. With COVID-19 restrictions in full effect and changes in travel preferences, the most substantial falls in the number of commercial flights were recorded in April (-91% compared with the same month in 2019), May (-90%) and June (-84%).
During the peak summer months, there was only a partial recovery, with falls of 64% in July and 53% in August, with further decreases observed in September (-59%) and October (-62%).
Although the extent of the impact and path to recovery varies across EU Member States, the largest decrease in the number of commercial flights was observed in April in 21 Member States, while May recorded the largest decrease in the remaining 6 EU Member States.
Frankfurt/Main airport: highest drop in the number of commercial flights in 2020
Between January and October 2020, a vast majority of EU airports registered a dramatic decrease in the number of commercial flights compared with the same period last year.
The largest decreases in the number of commercial flights were recorded in major European air transport hubs: Frankfurt/Main (-251 900 commercial flights, -58%), Paris/Charles de Gaulle (-232 200, -55%), Amsterdam/Schiphol (-225 700, -53%), München (-218 300, -63%) and Madrid/Barajas (-212 800, -60%).
Sharp decreases were also recorded in other major EU airports such as Barcelona/El Prat (-182 500, -63%), Roma/Fiumicino (-172 400, -65%), Wien/Schwechat (-138 600, -60%), København/Kastrup (-134 900, -61%) and Palma de Mallorca (-129 200, -66%).
The source of this monthly data on commercial air flights is Eurocontrol, a pan-European, civil-military organisation dedicated to supporting European aviation. Data on commercial flights include scheduled and non-scheduled commercial air 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 annual and quarterly data collection on passenger, freight and mail air transport. For more information about Eurostat data collection, please refer to this methodological file.
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