Although still below the pre-pandemic level by 24 per cent, the number of commercial flights in the EU has jumped by 130 per cent compared to December 2020.
According to Eurostat, the European statistics provider, 383,720 commercial flights were conducted in December 2021, 129.7 per cent more than in December of 2020 when 166,990 flights were operated and 24 per cent less than in December 2019 (504,270), SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
The air transport industry gradually increased in 2021, with the first months of 2021 being most affected as air traffic in January 2021 stood 68 per cent behind the same month in 2019, February (-73 per cent), March (-71 per cent) and April (-70 per cent).
While the first months of 2021 showed little to no recovery in air traffic, the situation took a turn for the good in May as more flights were booked, mainly due to the summer season approaching. In other words, the number of flights operated in May was 67 per cent less than in the corresponding month in 2019, while June reached 54 per cent of its pre-pandemic rates and August reached 31 per cent of its capacity.
In September, the number of flights did slightly fall (-33 per cent), but in the remaining months, the number of flights operated never dropped under 30 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels, when no restrictions and travel bans were imposed. In general, the number of flights in October stood at 30 per cent behind the same month in 2019, November at 26 per cent and December at 24 per cent, marking the closest return to pre-pandemic figures yet.
While the number of flights operated in December stood closest to those operated in 2019, April of 2020 saw the lowest rates on the matter since the pandemic started, with 91 per cent fewer flights operated compared to the same period in 2019.
Furthermore, the countries to mark the least difference in commercial flights in December 2021 were Croatia, with a six per cent decrease compared to December 2019, Greece (eight per cent) and Cyprus (nine per cent). In contrast, the number of flights dropped by more than 40 per cent only in Czechia and Austria (both -41 per cent), while the rest of the EU recorded shortfalls of less than a third.
In addition, the country that recovered the most was Greece, reaching 29 per cent of 2019’s commercial flights’ rates, followed by Cyprus (-38 per cent) and Luxembourg (-39 per cent). On the other end of the scale stands Ireland, with the least signs of recovery (-64 per cent), followed by Slovenia and Czechia (both -62 per cent).
Furthermore, the largest increases in the number of commercial flights were noticed in Berlin Brandeburg with 13,521 flights, marking a 16 per cent increase, followed by Liege with 6,972 flights accounting for a 21 per cent increase and Paris Le Bourget (2,715 flights and an eight per cent decrease).
On the other hand, airports that saw the lowest shortfalls include München with 261,020 fewer flights, marking a 64 per cent decrease), Frankfurt/Main (-250,712 flights accounting for a 49 per cent decrease) and Paris Charles de Gaulle with 247,959 fewer flights, halving down the number of flights operated.