COVID-19: European market update (w/e May 24)

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

According to the latest data from OAG Schedules Analyser, the total number of departure seats continued to rise from last week. An increase of 18.2% to 4,552,272 seats is listed; however, there may be some discrepancies in the data due to delays in some carriers updating their schedules in the system.

In the same week in 2019, more than 29 million departure seats were available from and within Europe as the summer season took hold.

European insight

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced plans to work with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Israeli government to help countries manage the reduction of COVID-19 measures collaboratively.

WHO regional director for Europe Hans Henri P. Kluge said: "The world is facing the greatest public health challenge of modern times. The European Region remains at the epicenter of the pandemic. So many livelihoods are at risk. So many lives have been lost. COVID-19 is a test of solidarity that we simply cannot afford to fail.”

Some lockdown restrictions have already begun to ease, such as those in Italy and Spain which were among the most stringent. Montenegro has declared itself free of COVID-19, while in the UK the first steps of a gradual reduction in measures will begin from June.

This week Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, will present an EU budget and recovery plan, to be discussed by MEPs. Calls have been made for a €2 trillion ($2.2 billion) recovery package as the continent aims to battle its way back from the crisis.

European airlines

Ryanair has announced that it will operate up to 40% of its flight schedule again from 1 July, following the news that Spain would welcome tourists once more from that date.

CEO Eddie Wilson said: “After four months of lockdown, we welcome these moves by governments in Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus to open their borders, remove travel restrictions and scrap ineffective quarantines.

“Irish and British families, who have been subject to lockdown for the last 10 weeks, can now look forward to booking their much-needed family holiday to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and other Mediterranean destinations, for July & Aug. before the schools return in Sept.

“Ryanair will be offering up to 1,000 daily flights from 1 July, and we have a range of low fare seat sales, perfect for that summer getaway, which we know many parents and their kids will be looking forward to as we move out of lockdown and into the school holidays.

Jet2 has also announced plans to recommence its flights and holidays from 1 July.

A spokesperson said: “We have said throughout that the sun will shine again and when it does, we will be there to take customers away on their well-deserved holidays. As well as this, agents can be assured that we will be implementing measures, in consultation with the relevant authorities, to ensure the safety and well-being of everybody onboard. We will announce further details on this in due course.”

Lufthansa has agreed a €9 billion bailout with the German government, but fears remain that EC conditions which, along with Ryanair’s pending legal challenge, could result in the loss of coveted slots at Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC).

Elsewhere, Volotea has announced the launch of 40 new routes across its network this summer, with 15 each in France and Spain, and eight in Italy.

“Now that flying protocols are becoming clearer, and that clients will regain the confidence in safe and healthy travel for this summer, we know most of our clients will want to travel more, especially in domestic markets,” Volotea founder and CEO Carlos Muñoz said.

“Therefore, we’ve adapted our network by strongly strengthening all of our domestic connections in Spain, France, Italy and Greece.”

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week