Europe Hardest Hit By COVID-19 Compared To Any Other Regions

Europe's airline capacity (including both Western and Eastern) suffered more in 2020 than in any other region. Based on the number of seats, Europe fell from second to third largest region. Europe’s legacy carriers have all reported their financial results for 2020 and the multibillion Euro losses highlight the huge challenge ahead for those carriers in 2021, even if vaccine rollouts do offer some hope of a recovery.

According to Aviation Week Intelligence Network’s Flight Tracking data, flight hours were at the lowest levels since June 2020 in February 2021 as a result of a return to lockdown in key countries.


With traffic at about one-third of pre-COVID levels, aviation industry players know the recovery will be slow going. And with lingering uncertainty about the spread of the virus and the speed of vaccinations in different regions, the uptick in demand may not be linear nor consistent across the continent.

Europe's dependence on international markets was always going to be a risk in the recovery from the pandemic, and even more so, given differences in the level and timing of travel restrictions across the constituent countries. The impact is felt the most in midsize hubs such as Copenhagen, Helsinki and Vienna, which need feeder traffic from intercontinental routes such as those from the U.S. and Asia.  

Despite the lingering pandemic impacts, Europe's fleet growth rate over the next decade is estimated to be a modest 1.6% CAGR.