COVID-19: European market update (w/e May 10)

Routes' weekly update on how airlines and airports across Europe are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Welcome to Routes’ weekly look at how Europe's aviation market is responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, helping you understand the schedule changes and manage the impact so we can navigate through this crisis together.

 The data is supplied by OAG using its OAG Schedules Analyser tool unless stated. Please note: the COVID-19 crisis remains fluid as airlines around the world continue to make dramatic capacity cuts. OAG has taken several steps to ensure the data is as accurate as possible. 

European capacity

OAG figures show that the number of departure seats across Europe totaled around 3.66 million last week (w/c May 4), a week-on-week reduction of 1.4%. During the same week in 2019, there were 28.7 million seats in the continent’s market, meaning it now 87.2% smaller in size than it was a year ago. 

Russia maintained its position as Europe’s largest aviation market by capacity with 546,315 departure seats. However, this was down from 733,845 during the previous seven days.

European countries

The UK is planning to introduce a 14-day quarantine period for passengers arriving by air. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the measures during a video address on Sunday (May 10) although no start or end date for the measures has been confirmed.

Passengers will be asked to self-isolate and to provide an address when they arrive at the border. However, travelers from France and Ireland will be exempt from the measures.

Johnson said: “I am serving notice that it will soon be the time—with transmission significantly lower—to impose quarantine on people coming into this country by air.”

Spain has also unveiled plans to implement a two-week mandatory quarantine for travelers arriving from overseas starting on May 15.  The quarantine requirement will stay in effect through the country’s state of emergency period to May 24 but could be extended.

Passengers will be required to complete a location card with contact and accommodation information so authorities can contact them during the quarantine period. The restrictions apply to both Spanish nationals and international travelers.

The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) said the quarantine measures imposed by the UK and Spain would be “arduous and damaging to the recovery of air transport in Europe.” The organisation added the move would have a detrimental effect and lengthen the time it will take for the travel and tourism industry to resume operations and services to consumers.

“A clear set of measures across the EU and third countries is needed urgently to allow aviation to recover,” ERA director general Montserrat Barriga said.

“A strategic set of processes and protocols can be implemented to make this happen that would re-establish confidence in flying. Quarantine measures will enforce a stalemate situation that benefits neither the passenger nor the airline.

“Collaboration is needed by all involved, otherwise the pathway to reconnect and reunite Europe will remain long, lengthy and economically devastating.”

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary described the UK quarantine plans as “nonsense,” adding there was “no scientific basis for it whatsoever.” International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh also blasted the idea, saying the move would hold back economic recovery.

“We’d been planning to resume, on a pretty significant basis, flying in July. I think we’ll have to review that,” Walsh added.

Despite the quarantine plans being implemented by the UK and Spain, the European Commission is expected to advise countries to open borders to other countries with similar coronavirus risk profiles. 

European airlines

Ryanair this week said it intends to operate a daily schedule of almost 1,000 flights from July 1, with service from “most” of its 80 bases across Europe. However, the Irish carrier admitted the plans are subject to government restrictions on flights within the EU being lifted and “effective public health measures” being put in place at airports.

The LCC’s planned schedules from July would restore 90% of its pre-coronavirus route network and 40% of capacity. There would be fewer daily and weekly frequencies on trunk routes as it works to restore some service on the widest number of routes, rather than operating high frequency services on a small number.

In the coming says, Ryanair plans to operate 3X-weekly flights to Bucharest (OTP) and Sofia (SOF) from May 15, with daily service to Porto (OPO) starting on May 22.

Lufthansa Group said its repatriation schedule would end on May 31 and 80 aircraft would be reactivated in June, doubling the number of aircraft currently operating. 

Lufthansa, Eurowings and SWISS will collectively fly to 106 destinations next month, with flights resuming to destinations including Crete (HER), Mallorca (PMI), Rostock (RLG) and Sylt (GWT). 

The group said the additional services were in response to “the growing interest of customers in air travel, following the gradual easing of restrictions and limitations in the German federal states and entry regulations of other countries in Europe.”

SWISS will operate about 10-15% of its intended timetable in June, with approximately 140 weekly flights from Zurich (ZRH) to 30 destinations in Europe, and approximately 40 weekly flights from Geneva (GVA) to 14 destinations in Europe. In addition, the airline will still serve the three weekly long-haul flights to New York Newark (EWR).

Air Serbia plans to resume a limited scheduled passenger air transport services on May 18, increasing to a comprehensive schedule on June 1. The flag-carrier stressed flights would “depend on the decisions and guidelines of national, foreign, and international civil aviation authorities and on the lifting of the flight bans, evolution of travel restrictions and health measurements to countries served by Air Serbia.”

Czech Airlines also plans to gradually resume operations from May 18, with plans to fly from Prague (PRG) to Amsterdam (AMS), Frankfurt (FRA), Paris (CDG) and Stockholm (ARN). Effective May 24, the carrier intends to resume operations on its Kiev (IEV) route, with Odessa (ODS) flights to follow the next day, provided mandatory quarantine restrictions are terminated in Ukraine, as currently scheduled. On 25 May 2020, flights to OTP will also resume.

Brussels Airlines is to cut its 4,000-strong workforce by a quarter and reduce its fleet by 30%. The carrier said it started the year with “positive” traffic and revenue, but demand has been hit “extremely hard” since the airline was forced to temporarily suspend flights on March 21.

Latest updates from Airlineroute:

TAP Air Portugal June – July 2020 operations as of 0245GMT 12MAY20

Alitalia resumes additional domestic service from mid-May 2020

Air France week of 17MAY20 European operations as of 10MAY20

KLM June 2020 European operations as of 10MAY20

Eurowings week of 24MAY20 operations as of 10MAY20

Lufthansa week of 24MAY20 European operations as of 10MAY20

British Airways June 2020 European operations as of 10MAY20 

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week

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