The number of flights taking off in Europe were down 65 per cent from January to April this year and the best-case scenario is that travel restrictions could be lifted across Europe by summer 2021.
However, this is unlikely to be the case as it depends heavily on the vaccination roll out in the European region, the effectiveness of the vaccine on new variants, and passenger confidence.
A more likely scenario is that air traffic levels won’t return to 2019 figures until 2024 at the earliest, according to the agency’s latest forecast.
Timetable for lifting of restrictions
“The situation remains very challenging for European aviation, Director General Eamonn Brennan said. “We’re heading into summer 2021 and most restrictions are still in place despite encouraging progress on the vaccination front.
“So, while we are anticipating an uptick in summer traffic, our most likely medium- term scenario envisages a co-ordinated lifting of restrictions by Q1 2022 between regions, which facilitates more long-haul travel,” Mr Brennan added.
“We’ll probably have around 50 per cent of 2019 traffic for all of 2021 (5.5 million flights). By the end of next year, traffic will only have recovered to 72 per cent of 2019 levels and will only get back to close to where we were pre-pandemic by 2025.”
The report highlights that at the other end of the scale, if the vaccine rollout is hampered because of unforeseen factors, we might not see a return to normal figures until the end of the decade.
This comes after recent news that the EU has agreed to ease restrictions on travel for non-EU travellers, a big step towards reopening Europe for non-essential travel to countries with a rate of Covid infection below 75 cases per 100,000.