Malta sees 34,000 fewer flights in 2020

Malta experienced a loss in air traffic of 58%, or 35,000 fewer flights, compared to 2019 due to the COVID-19 grounding of air travel


Malta experienced a loss in air traffic of 58%, or 35,000 fewer flights, compared to 2019 due to the COVID-19 grounding of air travel.

A Eurocontrol study on the impact of the pandemic forecasts an expected recovery to 51% of 2019 levels in 2021 for the aviation industry, with increased recovery expected from summer onwards.

2020 closed out with only five million total flights throughout Europe – a stark contrast to the 11.1 million flights that took place in 2019. The March-May period dealt the heaviest blow to the industry.

In terms of year-on-year traffic, March closed off at an 86.1% loss from the corresponding 2019 period, for a 4,202 daily average of flights. In April, traffic bottomed out at a 92.8% decrease, or 2,099 daily flights.

Average flights among the top 10 European airlines declined by 45-67%. Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, saw a decrease of 59% with a daily operating average of just 951 daily flights over the year.

The flights that did take place in 2020 were at best half full, according to the report.

COVID-19 had a highly uneven impact on various market segments in the industry. All-cargo flights were the least negatively affected with a 1% decline compared to 2019. Thanks to increased demand for medical supplies and other goods, this segment saw its market share double from 3% to 6%.

Business aviation took a softer blow. The sector almost completely recovered to 2019 levels throughout the summer period as businesses sought connectivity when scheduled connections were unavailable.

Low-cost carriers and traditional scheduled carriers were the worst-hit. The low-cost carriers recovered fairly quicker than traditional carriers over the summer, but the latter weathered the height of the pandemic slightly better due to the need for cargo ops and repatriations.

At year end, 51% of European fleets were grounded. From 8,048 airframes, 4,118 were parked up and inactive for more than seven days at the end of 2020. However this is a marked improvement compared to last April when 87% had been placed out of service.

Madrid Barajas International Airport tops the list with most grounded aircraft, with 132 units in storage.

The report highlights that aircraft models like the Boeing 747 and some Airbus 380 are unlikely to return to passenger operations, while airlines have announced purchase deferrals and accelerated retirements of older aircraft.

More in Business