Air travel demand in Europe has been on a tentative rebound over the past couple of months. Despite the recent resurgence of local virus clusters, subsequent travel restrictions, and partial lockdowns, traffic has seen a substantial bump in the past week. Granted, this is mostly due to the increase in operations by the busiest airline across the continent right now – Ryanair.
Top five carriers
Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, Ryanair, is the hustler of the European skies at the moment. According to data from Eurocontrol, on Sunday, August 2nd, the airline operated 1882 flights, following 1824 on August 1st, 1223 on July 31st, and 872 on July 30th.
In second place is Ryanair’s LCC competitor, easyJet with 1064 flights on August 2nd. The Luton-based carrier also increased flights progressively from 608 on July 30th.
While easyJet now sits firmly in second place, for a while in July, it was switching spots with Turkish Airlines. The two took turns throughout the latter part of the month, operating between 545 and 672 flights each, whereas Ryanair was never challenged for the top spot.
Rounding out Europe’s top five are Air France and Wizz Air. The two also switched back-and-forth between fourth and fifth place in July. However, since the beginning of August, Air France has held a shaky lead with between 30 and 70 flights more than its Hungarian counterpart per day.
Traffic up 5% from week prior
Passenger traffic in Europe in week 31, meaning from July 27th to August 2nd, was at 44.3% of 2019 levels. The total number of flights tallied in at 108,547 with an average daily number of 15,507. That is a growth of 5% from the previous week.
#COVID19 An overview of week 31 shows a traffic growth of 5% week on week and an average increase of 744 flights a day taking the average daily number of flights up to 15,507 @Transport_EU @CANSOEurope @ACI_EUROPE @IATA @A4Europe @eraaorg @EBAAorg @ECACceac pic.twitter.com/ut4RwQVfnA
— Eamonn Brennan (@eurocontrolDG) August 3, 2020
While there might have been some skepticism following recent restrictions, among others, the UK’s sudden decision to quarantine travelers from Spain, these numbers give cause for cautious optimism concerning the recovery of air travel on the European continent.
The data does not account for load-factors, but at the beginning of July, Ryanair reported a 70% passenger load on its flights as it returned to something akin to a regular schedule after months operating as a shadow of its usual self.
Ryanair recently launched legal action against the travel restrictions put in place by the Irish Government, having previously protested the measures by cutting its schedule by 1,000 flights from Irish airports.
Ambiguous future in Germany
As opposed to its up-and-coming competitor, Wizz, who has been opening bases left-right-and-center during the crisis, Ryanair is looking to close down at least three of its bases in Germany.
However, while its German pilots may have narrowly rejected the new terms and conditions rolled out across Ryanair’s network, the airline could still expand its operations in Germany. It is looking to secure take-off and landing slots vacated by Lufthansa as part of the flag-carrier’s bailout conditions at Frankfurt and Munich Airports.
Are you traveling in Europe these days? Which airline have you chosen, and why? Let us know in the comments.