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 hit immediately.
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%), October (-62%), November (-68%), December (-67%), with no signs of recovery in the new year: January 2021 (-68% compared with same month in 2020).
Although the extent of the impact and path to a 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.
München airport: highest drop in the number of commercial flights in January 2021
Following unprecedented decreases in the number of commercial flights in 2020, the pandemic continued to impact a vast majority of EU airports in 2021.
In January 2021, the largest decreases in the number of commercial flights were recorded in major European air transport hubs: München (-25 400 commercial flights compared with January 2020, -85%), Paris/Charles de Gaulle (-23 500, -63%), Amsterdam/Schiphol (-23 100, -61%), Frankfurt/Main (-23 100, -64%) and Madrid/Barajas (-22 900, -70%).
Sharp decreases were also recorded in other major EU airports such as Barcelona/El Prat (-17 700, -77%), Roma/Fiumicino (-16 400, -78%), Wien/Schwechat (-15 800, -79%), København/Kastrup (-14 900, -79%) and Düsseldorf (-12 800, -84%).
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 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.