Across Europe, flights and bookings accelerate

A raft of new figures shows airline seats and traffic growing across Europe, with holidaymakers lending momentum to aviation’s recovery.

The figures, from air navigation body Eurocontrol, show that flights across Europe reached 19,826 on June 18. And Eurocontrol chief executive Eamonn Brennan says is the highest since March 2020.

The total was more than half the number of flights in the region during the same week in 2019, the year before Covid-19 struck, grounding the continent’s airlines.

Other organizations also say that passenger numbers have reached the milestone of 50 per cent of 2019 totals.

Aviation news publisher OAG said western Europe once again leads the way in air travel’s recovery from Covid-19 curbs; with its airlines adding about 700,000 seats last week.

Flight search

Meanwhile, Bank of America’s weekly sky tracker indicated that traffic on both Ryanair’s and rival Wizz’s websites was reaching 2019 levels; as growing numbers of people shop for flights in Europe.

Muneeba Kayani, the bank’s analyst, notes that in the week ending June 13, sales of flights within Europe reached 52% of the equivalent period in 2019. They were at 44 per cent in the first week of the month.

She believes that increasing number of member states adopting the EU’s digital Covid-19 certificate is aiding growth in the bloc.

The data shows that Ryanair is contributing most to the revival in Europe. OAG calculates that it boosted capacity by 13% last week and is “getting ever closer” to the two million seats a week mark.

Eurocontrol says that that the Irish low-cost giant was responsible for 1,378 flights on Friday; about one in five of the total on that day.

The revival offers some hope to the airlines, but also its oil refiners who’ve seen demand for aviation fuel collapse. The pandemic-driven slump in flying meant they diverted production of normally valuable jet fuel into other oil products like diesel and naphtha.

In April, consumption of jet fuel and kerosene in OECD Europe was 690,000 barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency. That’s an increase of 74 per cent compared with a year earlier.

While the recovery is gathering pace, there’s still a long way to go. Even in Eurocontrol’s most optimistic scenario, air traffic will reach 79% of 2019 levels by the end of 2021.

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