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New report shows 6,000 routes in Europe lost to the pandemic


ACI Europe’s latest traffic analysis shows that 6,000 air routes previously operated from Europe’s airports have been lost to the COVID-19 crisis.

The routes, which have been axed by the airlines this year and not resumed, expose “the systemic collapse of the aviation network and air connectivity due to the COVID-19 crisis,” according to ACI Europe.

The findings, published by ACI Europe today in its 2020 Airport Industry Connectivity Report, reveal that 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%).

Amongst 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%).

Heathrow, Terminal 5A, check-in hall, COVID-19 signage, 20th May 2020.

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%).

According to ACI Europe, hub connectivity has been even more affected than direct connectivity, with the top six European airports for hub connectivity having recovered only 16% of their hub connectivity by September.

Amongst the league, 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%).

This, states ACI Europe, in a stark message to national governments, is “the extent of the damage linked directly to measures enacted to contain the virus – the ‘blanket quarantine’ approach still being taken in many countries”.

Its director general, Olivier Jankovec, warned: “The damage is so systemic that relying solely on market forces to restore air connectivity would not be realistic.

“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.”

ACI Europe’s annual connectivity reports measure the extent to which Europe’s airports and their communities are connected to and accessible from the rest of the continent and world using a set of direct, indirect and hub connectivity indexes.

Commenting on the report, Karen Dee, chief executive of the UK’s Airport Operators Association (AOA), noted: “This report brings into sharp focus the brutal impact that COVID-19 has had on aviation and the urgent need for the UK and devolved governments to work with industry on an aviation recovery package.

“Aviation is an economic enabler, and the loss of routes will hold back our national economic recovery before it has begun. It also puts the UK government’s levelling-up and Global Britain agendas at severe risk.

“We need action and support now to kick-start aviation’s long overdue recovery. We cannot have a full economic recovery without a thriving aviation sector so bringing forward measures to support aviation and bring back routes must be a priority for the government.”


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