What Has Been The Impact Of The Pandemic On European Aviation?

As we know the pandemic has had a negative impact on the aviation industry as a whole as well as in other parts of the world. Europe, however, has also been affected and in addition to this, the recovery has been difficult due to the surge in demand and congestion at airports. The Ukraine conflict has also restricted travel and flight routes due to airspace bans with Russia and Ukraine being out of bounds for flying. This has meant that flights to the Far East have to divert, taking longer routes through other places.

The Situation During The Pandemic

Taking a look at figures released by the European Commission shows that there was a significant fall in passenger numbers during the pandemic. The data shows that in 2020, during the pandemic, the number of European Union (EU) airline passengers fell by 73.3% when compared to pre- Covid 2019. The total number travelling during 2020 was 277 million passengers. All member states recorded large drops when compared to 2019. The highest fall was seen in Slovenia which had an 83.3% fall in numbers. This was followed by Slovakia with an 82.4% fall and then Croatia with an 81.9% fall in passenger numbers. The lowest decrease was recorded was in Luxembourg with the passenger numbers there falling by 67.3%. As one can see therefore every European Union member had a drop in air passenger numbers in excess of 60%.

A look at the figures released by the IATA shows that other countries outside the EU but within Europe were also significantly affected. The UK for example suffered a 65% reduction in passenger numbers and a reduction in revenue valued at 30.6 billion US dollars. Other countries such as Turkey suffered a 59% reduction in passenger numbers and Switzerland suffered a 64% reduction in passenger numbers.

Heathrow Airport - busy
The UK suffered a 65% reduction in passenger numbers © Getty Images

The Situation After The Lifting Of Pandemic Restrictions

Since pandemic restrictions have been lifted it does appear that there has been a rebound in demand for air travel. The demand for air travel has been so great that airlines and airports have been struggling to cope due to less staff. As we know many staff were laid off during the pandemic due to lower demand for services. In the UK London’s Heathrow airport has had to put a cap on passenger numbers in order to cope with the surge in demand. In addition, in the Netherlands, a member of the EU, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has also had to reduce passenger numbers in order to meet the surge in demand.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Amesterdam’s Schiphol airport had to cut down on passenger numbers © iStockPhoto

However, Europe’s woes have also been felt elsewhere. In North America for example there were mass cancelations and delays over the weekend celebrating independence from colonial rule. So because of this, the problems Europe faced were not unique to the continent. European airlines have also had additional issues due to the war in Ukraine. Ukraine, another European but non-EU country, had to ground the planes (stop planes from flying) of its national carrier Ukraine International Airlines after the invasion of Ukraine. The only respite came when another airline, the Latvian national carrier air Baltic, offered to lease (effectively rent) some planes and crew from Ukraine International Airlines providing some much-needed income to Ukraine’s flag carrier.

As one can see Europe has gone through turmoil during the pandemic with a dramatic reduction in passenger numbers during this time. However, now that the recovery is in full swing it does appear that Europe faces not only the challenge of dealing with the surge in numbers but also the additional problem of the war in Ukraine. We have to wait to see how European aviation deals with these challenges.

How have the results of the pandemic’s impact affected your travel plans? Let us know in the comments!

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Amuthan Chandrarajan
Amuthan Chandrarajan
Aviation Reporter - Amuthan has a background in residential and commercial real estate. He also has a keen interest in aviation and travel and has visited many countries. Amuthan has a sound knowledge of business and finance.  He has gained a Master of Business Administration and has become a Chartered Management Accountant. 


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