Which European Countries Have Seen The Largest Decrease In Traffic

Airline recovery has been something of a rollercoaster. While the ups and downs seem to, for the most part, be reducing in intensity, there are still significant differences in traffic levels compared to this time of the year in 2019. On Tuesday, Eurocontrol released average daily departures and arrivals for the first full week of January 2022. Let’s take a look at how the larger European countries are doing.

British Airways A320
The UK saw the most significant decrease in traffic figures last week compared to the same time pre-pandemic. Photo: Getty Images

The road to recovery was always going to be long and arduous. Nearly two years into the pandemic and the most severe crisis the aviation industry has ever faced, it is becoming clear there will be no straight and even trajectory to how things were before.

Instead, there will be turbulence and curveballs in the form of new variants and travel restrictions. While most commercial aviation seems to have passed at least the worst hump, some airlines such as Cathay Pacific are still struggling tremendously due to severe government restrictions.

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The UK has seen a decrease of 35%

Meanwhile, after an initial Omicron wobble, European carriers are doing relatively ok. When it comes to traffic figures, some countries are faring better than others. According to Eurocontrol statistics comparing the first whole week of January of 2022 to that of 2019, out of the top ten states, the UK had the most significant decrease with 35%.

Average daily departures and arrivals from January 4th to 10th were 3,163 flights, which, on a positive note, is an increase of 3% from the two weeks over Christmas and New Year.

Airbus A350, Qatar Airways, 2021
Germany, home to flag carrier Lufthansa, saw the second-to-greatest decrease in flights during the first week of January compared to two years prior. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Spain closest to making a full recovery

However, the UK and its airports remain in the third busiest spot in Europe. It is beaten by Spain, which takes the top place with 3,179 average daily take-offs and landings. These figures mean a reduction in traffic by 11% compared to two years ago, the smallest decrease of any of the top ten European countries. Furthermore, Spain saw no decrease in traffic over the two weeks prior.

In between the two sits Germany, with an average of 3,173 daily flights and a decrease of 32% compared to the same time frame in 2019. France, with a decrease of 26% and 2,599 flights, takes the third spot in decrease over two years. However, over fourteen days, France has fared the worst of the top ten European countries with a reduction of 9%.

Iberia Airbus A350-941 EC-NCX (2)
Iberia’s Spain topped departures and arrivals in Europe for the first whole week of January – and has the least decrease in traffic compared to 2019. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Switzerland was behind (or should that be in front) of the UK, Germany, and France, with 21% (1,863 flights). Poland (787 flights) and Italy (2,320 flights) both saw a decrease of 16%, whereas Norway (1052 flights) dropped 15% compared to 2019 figures but an increase of 8% over two weeks. Turkey (1,863 flights) was down 14%, whereas traffic in the Netherlands decreased by 12%.

How much have you traveled in Europe over the past two years? What have your airport experiences been like? Have you stuck to a favorite airline or gone with the one that better suits your needs of the specific journey? Leave a comment and share your story. 

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