Covid-19 has continually tormented the aviation industry for the best part of a year. However, the reduction in flights due to travel restrictions in the European airspace has resulted in cleaner skies.
According to a report by the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol), the reduction in travel this year has led to a massive 56.9% decline in flight-based CO2 emissions from the previous year.
In 2017, 3.8% of all CO2 emitted in Europe was directly attributed to the aviation industry. This emphasises just how impressive these new figures are.
Increase in cargo flights
According to the agency, the decline correlates closely to the number of flights departing. This stood at 54.5% fewer departures last year.
The pandemic has changed the way people travel, with the average journey departing Europe veering towards long-haul flights due to the high cancellation rate of short-haul European trips. As a result, single trips have generated more CO2.
This data is especially evident in countries with a larger dependence on international airports such as the Netherlands. Total air traffic saw around a 50% decline which is in line with the majority of Europe. However, similar to Belgium, the Netherlands saw just a 41.2% decline in CO2 emissions. Another potential issue this year has been the increase in cargo flights. Larger aircraft are generally required to haul cargo around which also increases the CO2 output.
Despite this, on the whole, CO2 emissions have followed a downward trend this year. Data has contrasted vastly between nations, with Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Montenegro seeing CO2 emission reductions above 70%.