Flight Hours In Europe Fall Back to 40% Of Pre-COVID Levels

Europe’s airline industry is in for a grim winter season. Traffic has been declining since a brief summer respite, but as countries across the region impose lockdowns in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, things may be about to get worse.


Until recently, the region’s airlines had been contending that pent-up demand for travel was there, but inconsistency in national travel restrictions and quarantine requirements was holding down bookings.

But now, with millions of potential passengers largely confined to their homes again, the air transport industry is facing the reality that even the progress toward better coordination and testing for which they have been calling—and which they still hope will help in the long term—will be of no assistance in the coming weeks.

Airlines’ capacity plans were already indicating that utilization would fall further in the coming weeks. As lockdown after lockdown begins, the mood within the industry is gloomy.  

If the major European groups have reassured investors that they can hang on until the spring—around the time experts say a COVID-19 vaccine may start to be made available—they will urgently need traffic to start recovering after that.