COVID19: 6000 air routes in Europe have vanished

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Airports Council International published a report Friday showing the harsh reality of over 6000 air routes previously operated from Europe still not being restored 9 months into the pandemic.

ACI Europe’s 2020 Airport Industry Connectivity Report exposes the systemic collapse of the aviation network and air connectivity due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Published yearly since 2014, these reports do not measure passenger volumes but the extent to which Europe’s airports and their communities are connected to and accessible from the rest of the continent and the world.

EU/UK airports have been the hardest hit with their direct connectivity almost disappearing in April, then experiencing a weak recovery over the peak summer month of August at -55% before falling again as of September (-62%).

Among larger EU/UK airports, the sharpest decreases in direct connectivity were registered by Madrid-Barajas (-71%), Rome-Fiumicino (-70%), Munich (-68%), London-Heathrow (-68%) and Frankfurt (-67%) as of September.

Meanwhile, smaller regional airports have often seen their direct connectivity even more decimated as evidenced by Linz (-96%), Treviso (-95%), Vaasa (-91%), Quimper (-87%), Newquay (-86%), Shannon (-83%) and Burgas (-82%).

Conversely, direct connectivity at Russian and Turkish airports has proven more resilient, due to both the size and relative dynamic of their domestic market.

This has resulted in more contained direct connectivity losses for Moscow-Domodedovo (-12%), Saint Petersburg (-26%), Moscow-Vnukovo (-28%) and Istanbul-Sabiha Gökçen (-33%).

Hub connectivity has been more affected than direct connectivity with the Majors (top 6 European airports for hub connectivity) having recovered only 16% of their hub connectivity by September.

Munich (-93%) and London-Heathrow (-92%) registered the steepest losses in hub connectivity, followed by Frankfurt (-89%), Istanbul (-85%), Paris-CDG (-81%) and Amsterdam-Schiphol (-70%).

ACI Europe said the damage is directly linked to National Government measures enacted to contain the virus – the ‘blanket quarantine’ approach still being taken in many countries.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe said: “The damage is so systemic that relying solely on market forces to restore air connectivity would not be realistic.”

He said other EU government should follow the example of Cyprus in helping aviation recover.

“The EU and governments across Europe must urgently intervene to help jump-start it.

“We need a Recovery Framework for aviation that includes ‘Air Connectivity Restart Schemes’ similar to that seen in Cyprus – with temporary financial contributions aimed at supporting the restart of air routes on a non-discriminatory basis.”

“Air connectivity is an essential part of the productive capacity of our societies, with every 10% increase in direct air connectivity delivering a 0.5% increase in GDP per capita.

“It is what holds Europe together, by enabling local economic development, inward investment and tourism. We will not build back and recover without restoring air connectivity.”