Summer Has Arrived: Europe Sees Huge Increase In Flights

The numbers are rising and impressive, at least during a pandemic. Eurocontrol flight data for Tuesday, July 6th, shows a big increase in the number of flights across European nations, especially Greece, Spain, and Turkey. Has summer arrived? We examine the situation.

Lufthansa B747-8
Germany had the third-highest number of flights on July 6th. Photo: Getty Images.

Greece, Spain, and Turkey are up strongly

Traffic (by the number of flights operated) over the past two weeks is up by 43% for Greece, +32% for Spain, and +31% for Turkey. All have grown by a significant amount in a short space of time.

This clearly demonstrates the importance of holiday traffic and loosening entry restrictions as the peak summer approaches. However, it says nothing of fares, passengers aboard, or any element of financial performance.

Eurocontrol flights
The 10 countries with the most operated flights. Image: Eurocontrol.

The number of flights to Greece and Turkey is down by just 24% over what they had on this day in 2019. This is far better than the average across Europe as a whole (down by 42.6%), clearly meaning that some countries – notably the UK – struggle onwards.

Aegean Airlines Airbus A320
Turkey and Greece have seen the quickest recovery so far. Photo: Getty Images

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The UK struggles on

On this July day, Eurocontrol shows that France had the most arrivals and departures, with 3,246. It was followed by Spain (3,234) and Germany (3,207). All three grew well over the prior two weeks, and traffic versus 2019 was down by 37% to 51%.

None of this can be said about the UK. With just 2,040 flights, the country was sixth by this measure, a fall from first in 2019. It added just 225 flights in two weeks, up by 12%, meaning that movements were down by a significant 70% over 2019.

This despite the success of the vaccination program. It is not helped by the traffic light system, bureaucracy, uncertainty, long waits at immigration, and the UK not being part of the EU’s COVID certificate scheme.

Virgin A350-1000
The UK’s flights are down by 70% despite the vaccination program. Photo: Getty Images

Things could be changing

But things could be changing. It is expected that the UK Government will today (July 8th) announce that those living in the UK and arriving from amber countries and territories will no longer have to quarantine at home if they’ve been double jabbed. Amber places cover most of the world, including hotspots like France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain – and the United States.

The potential is strong. However, at the time of writing, what will happen to unvaccinated children and non-residents is unknown, both of which would reduce its impact, likewise still requiring a reasonably expensive PCR test. Moreover, UK residents will still be subject to the rules of the countries from which they traveled. But it is an obvious and needed start.

For the UK to really fly, even more joined-up thinking will be needed. Photo: Getty Images.

Greece summer network

Looking at the whole summer, some 39 airports across Greece have service, according to schedule information from aviation data experts OAG. Athens, Heraklion, Rhodes, Thessaloniki, and Corfu will be the busiest, and Kastellorizo the quietest. This summer, the country has benefited from the growth of Wizz Air, flydubai, United Airlines, and many others.

Will you be flying to, from, or within Europe this summer? Let us know in the comments.