European air traffic remains in the doldrums

Turkish Airlines operates the most daily flights among European airlines in a low-demand environment.

European air traffic reached just a third of 2019 levels in the second week of February, as ongoing travel restrictions and national lockdowns kept a lid on demand, network manager Eurocontrol said in its latest update.  

Traffic in the week to Feb. 14 represented just 33% of activity in the same week of 2019, although that did mark a very slight improvement on the previous three weeks when traffic reached between 32.7% and 32.9% of the year earlier level.  

In total, 61,417 flights operated across the network. Turkish Airlines recorded the most flights, at 592 per day, followed by Air France with 383.  

Across Europe, strict travel restrictions and national lockdowns aimed at limiting the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and especially new more transmissible variants, are taking their toll on demand.  

In France, where travel to and from countries outside the European Union is banned except for essential reasons, Paris airports operator Groupe ADP has closed terminal 4 at Orly Airport (ORY) until further notice, leaving only terminals 2 and 3 operating. 

Earlier this month, the French government told Groupe ADP to drop its plan for a fourth terminal at the capital’s biggest airport, Charles de Gaulle (CDG), which had been based on pre-COVID long-term passenger growth forecasts.  

In the UK, new rules came into force Feb. 15, meaning all international arrivals must pre-book COVID-19 tests in addition to quarantining at home, while arrivals from “red list” countries must quarantine in a hotel.  

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth / Aviation Week