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July 20, 2024
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Air travel in Europe is expected to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2025, Eurocontrol says in its forecast for 2023 to 2029. The air traffic management organization is seeing ‘vivid pent-up demand’ this year, but after 2025 it expects a slowdown due to economic and political uncertainties. Eurocontrol expects traffic in Europe to recover only in 2025.

Before the Covid crisis, Europe saw 11.1 million flights in 2019. Air travel is back to 9.2 million in 2022 and should grow to 10.3 million this year and 10.9 million in 2024 in Eurocontrols baseline scenario, before reaching 11.1 million again in 2025. Traffic is expected to grow at a low rate until reaching 11.9 million in 2029.

A lot can happen until then, but Eurocontrol sees a number of factors that have an impact on air travel in the short to medium future. Economic growth will be just 1.5 percent for the next two years, inflation will remain high, as will energy prices, resulting in an overall degradation of the economic situation.

The outcome of the war of Russia in Ukraine is also unpredictable, with some analysts saying it could last for years. Eurocontrol isn’t optimistic and says that restrictions on airspace in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Moldavia are expected to continue until 2029.

Long-haul traffic is set to recover, even to Asia and the Pacific regions that saw reduced traffic during the pandemic and following the closure of Russian airspace after the sanctions. After a strong uplift, Business Aviation is expected to level off as passengers return to using commercial services. Eurocontrol remains concerned about staffing shortages and disruptions at airports. Another factor impacting air travel is the introduction or increase of taxes to discourage people from flying on short routes and taking alternatives instead.

Looking back on 2022

Looking back at 2022, Eurocontrol saw significant variants in air travel by regions in Europe. Where Southeast Europe benefited from five to thirteen percent growth versus 2019, South and Northwest Europe were down two to twenty percent. In Northeast Europe, closest to Russia, traffic was down by 28 to 39 percent. Flights in Ukraine were down by ninety percent compared to 2019. Traffic to Russia dropped by 71 percent and Asia-Pacific by 33 percent.

In its forecast for 2023, flights are expected to pick up by eleven percent. Finland leads the way with fifteen percent but comes from -35 percent last year. Turkey is at plus fourteen percent, with many countries in Central and Western Europe at plus twelve percent. Spain is behind at plus nine, France at just plus 8.7. The UK will see thirteen percent growth.

In 2024, the most growth is in Finland, and the Baltic states (eleven to fourteen percent), with Germany at 9.1, France at 6.4, the UK at 5.7 percent, and Spain at 5.2 percent growth.

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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