View Full Version : COVID-19 Impact on EUROCONTROL Member States - United Kingdom

Kirks gusset
9th Jun 2021, 20:39
The briefing (available for download below in English) provides key facts and graphics and is one of a series covering the impact of the crisis on countries across Europe (https://centreforaviation.com/data/profiles/regions/europe).

It includes a specific country-level forecast, which shows that in the (most likely) Scenario 2, 2024 traffic in the UK (https://centreforaviation.com/data/profiles/countries/united-kingdom) is expected to achieve 95% of the 2019 level.

More information on the recent forecasts produced by EUROCONTROL (https://centreforaviation.com/data/profiles/air-traffic-management/eurocontrol-muac) can be found here.

The briefing includes also information on airports, the major airlines, market segments and traffic flows, including:

Total flights lost since 1 March 2020: 2.0M flights;
Current flight status: 1,859 daily flights or -72% vs 2019 (7-day average);
Traffic forecast: 42% of 2019 in 2021 & 72% in 2022;
GDP: +5.9% in 2021 & +6.5% in 2022 (vs. previous year);
Vaccination: 38.9 per hundred people fully vaccinated;
Busiest airport: Heathrow (https://centreforaviation.com/data/profiles/airports/london-heathrow-airport-lhr) with 429 average daily flights (-69% vs. 2019);
Busiest airline: Ryanair (https://centreforaviation.com/data/profiles/airlines/ryanair-fr) with 228 average daily flights (-73% vs. 2019).

We all knew the impact but the forecast of 2024 for recovery?

10th Jun 2021, 08:12
The factor many people - including a lot of airline management- overlook is that even if everything reopened tomorrow the airlines do not have the training capacity to get back to previous levels in less than about 3 years. And that lead time is increasing all the time as trainers run out of currency and/or retire.

Baldeep Inminj
10th Jun 2021, 22:28
I see today that British Airways are putting thousands of staff back on furlough. This is a disaster for them and their families and desperately sad for the industry as a whole. However, it was also entirely predictable and I despair at the head-in-the-sand views of so many in the aviation (and wider) industry.

Steven Hawking, Carl Sagan and Philip K. Dick all wrote extensively about the inevitability of a pandemic, and how it would manifest in our population. Steven Hawking was particularly matter-of-fact about the subject as he was so convinced it was simply a matter of when, and not if. He also said it would fundamentally change our world paradigm - everything would change seismically, and for the long term. The pandemic now is almost a 'cut 'n paste' of his views.

Forecasts of recovery of the aviation sector from within the sector are deluded. The virus is running the show, not the FAA, CAA, EASA or BA/Virgin/American/Lufthansa etc etc. There is a new reality now, and it is not going away. This virus now has a food source. It will mutate, hide, run, dodge and then fight - it is defining our new reality. There are many people in aviation who are waiting for it to 'go away'. I feel for them and desperately want them to be able to rebuild their industrys...but I fear they are living in a dreamworld. There is a new reality, and we must admit it, accept it, and adapt to it, not the other way round. For example, we probably need airliners with sealed passenger cells, individually filtered air, individual toilets etc. I am sure people think I am crazy and deluded - not a problem, as all opinions are equally valued - you may be right and I actually hope you are...seriously.

This is the new reality. Air travel will remain a fraction of what it was, and for many years. Those furloughed or let go completely will be lucky to come back, and if they do, they should be ready to be let go again at any time.

I know this is an unpopular view and not what people want to hear, but I believe it is where we now are.

I am ready for abuse and insults over my view, but I really am trying to be realistic. I have been in aviation for 30 yrs plus, I have degrees in Psychology and Engineering. I read everything I can get my hands on. I am not stupid.

The world has changed. By definition that means the previous state has gone. It is not coming back.

11th Jun 2021, 02:02
…and luckily not a degree in microbiology… phew! 😅

11th Jun 2021, 05:44
You gotta love the prophets of doom. The human condition has not changed. The merry go round will gather pace again and the world will move on to the next BIG thing in due course.

Anti Skid On
11th Jun 2021, 06:15
What Baldeep Inminj has said is regrettably fact for those in aviation. There will be no magical return to the good old days. Living on a small island isolated from the rest of the world, where we don't have Covid 'in the wild' travel is limited to domestic, certain Australian ports, and Rarotonga - and even then passengers have to wear masks. I disagree we'll see any change in the cabins of aircraft.

There is talk of New Zealand opening its borders early next year, but that will be subject to multiple additional measures. Even those areas where the borders are open have open and shut in response to overseas outbreaks.

This is going to be a long battle

11th Jun 2021, 06:34
Umm..maybe ..but having sat through a Fluid Mechanics lecture given by an eminent Maths prof in which in his conclusions it became quickly evident he really did not understand the real world use of things such as flaps I'm very wary of gurus in field A being quoted as an authority in field B, C D etc.......or that his/her comments are proof something is going to happen...

11th Jun 2021, 09:24
I believe we must wait and see what happens next winter (Northern hemisphere). If the virus restarts kicking back with severe illnesses and hospitalizations then this will mean we still have a long battle ahead. Otherwise we might start to see the finish line and go back to our lives. Time will tell.

11th Jun 2021, 19:46
Doom and gloom sell a lot better than hope, but let's try and put things into perspective. This is well and by far not the first pandemic the world has seen. Neither the deadliest one (touch wood). There's no reason to think that it will be so vastly different from any previous one that it will require a permanent new definition of normality akin to the one seen in antiutopian novels.

It's not just vaccines and natural immunity. With time, people get better at understanding transmission and what exactly the virus does to the body. The latter is especially important as it helps to continuously improve treatment protocols and develop specific drugs the first generation of which will hopefully become available in the next months. With all this in combination, there's every reason to believe that this pandemic will end like any other one. The virus might never disappear completely - but neither did the bubonic plague which killed a massive fraction of the population of Medieval Europe and gave birth to the terms "quarantine" (from "quaranta giorni", or 40 days, the time period ship crews were isolated for upon arrival to Europe) and "isolation" (from "isola", the island in Rome where ill people were sent to stay segregated from everyone else). It will become another manageable problem which will be kept at bay without much disruption to life.

Anti Skid On
12th Jun 2021, 02:42
You nailed it in your last couple of lines; once upon a time it took months to go from one side of the globe to another, now it's hours. If passengers who are carriers can create chaos in previously virus free communities, those countries with no doubt close borders - and that will affect everything from travels pland for passengers, through to scheduling and even isolation facilities, so I disgaree re. manageable, perhaps manageable with considerable inconvenience and additional expense.

12th Jun 2021, 08:41
The thing about this pandemic and the responses to it, is that forecasting/prediction over the next few weeks, let alone months, has become very unreliable. There are many scenarios ranging from pretty bad to quite good and they all seem about equally likely from where Iím sitting.

On the whole though, Iím more optimistic than I was last year, now that vaccination programs are taking off. Just looking at the airline industry from a hyper-selfish viewpoint, if you can afford airline travel, you can afford to be vaccinated and tested, so we should see things opening up in the short to medium term.

Again, from an industry-centric viewpoint, the elephant in the room is climate change and de-carbonisation of the global economy. That is likely to have a far greater impact on the medium to long term than CV-19 and its ilk...

13th Jun 2021, 14:10
European short-haul aviation will be back to pre Covid levels by 2022-23, followed by a pilot shortage in 2024, due to the staggering amount of people leaving the industry.

13th Jun 2021, 17:27
And then You woke up in sweat ?
Nobody has a clue mate, it’s all guessing here. Look at what’s happening in the UK.

13th Jun 2021, 17:29

I find it veeeery unlikely that aviation will be “allowed” to go back to pre pandemic levels in view of cutting carbon emissions. It will get better, sure, but I strongly doubt it will ever again reabsorb all the jobless pilots.

17th Jun 2021, 20:34
It’s not only whether Aviation will be ‘allowed’ to return to pre-Covid traffic volumes, customer demand may also be a factor.

I had lunch with an old friend who is a senior executive at a major management consultancy. They have decided to become ‘carbon neutral’ and business travel by air is their single largest carbon expense. They believe that in 2022 / 3 their business travel by air will be less than 25% of 2019 level.

There was article in the travel section of the Sunday Times in February 2020 entitled ‘Teenagers demand parents remain grounded’. This reported that young people are worried by David Attenborough’s documentaries and are urging their parents to avoid air travel when planning holidays. This article was a month before Covid hit the headlines.

17th Jun 2021, 20:44
Apart from the few keen followers of Greta Thunberg, I can't think of many "Generation Instagram" kids who would rather spend their holidays in a local caravan park than on the beach somewhere sunny.

17th Jun 2021, 21:39
Totally agree, but as mentioned above business travel is also very likely to undergo a big hit which in turn will be (again) detrimental to the airlines recover.

Moonraker One
18th Jun 2021, 11:17
In my family the job involved 50,000 miles in a car and frequent air travel staying away in hotels. Since the Covid 19 restrictions he has done more business and made a bigger profit from his home office. The company car was taken back and they don't want him to travel in the future.

18th Jun 2021, 11:25
Like it or not, carbon emissions are going to be the biggest single drag item post covid. Upper atmosphere carbon emissions will be a real talking point, and the fact that world has largely adapted to a massive reduction in seat miles will be hard to refute. I expect that 2019 will end up the high water mark for global aviation.

On another note, Chinese agrarian and market customs have given us three corona viruses in 19 years, and two influenzas. I would be planning for another pandemic (real or feared) in the next ten years.

18th Jun 2021, 11:28
Business travel will take a hit but most business travel was BS anyway. I know from when I worked in the city, it only served as an excuse for me and my colleagues to get away from the usual routine and go and fine dine/wine in some foreign place at the company's expense. Very little was accomplished that we couldn't do remotely over the last 10 years anyway. With the opportunity now gone, people will be looking for a replacement excuse or they'll go crazy. So expect personal/private travel (weekend breaks especially) to rise as business travel goes down especially with the rise of WFH and people not getting out anyway. Contrary to popular opinion, you don't need lots of money to travel within Europe at least.

Moonraker One
18th Jun 2021, 11:29
I would also like to say that the UK Government has lost all logic and reason since March 2020. It's like a ETOTO with all the emergency procedures ignored whilst the wing catches fire and they still won't follow the Check List. In fact they keep changing it. Decision making is chaotic and even when the plan doesn't work and a review is completed they don't action the plan draw up from logical conclusions. Leadership has been delegated to straw poll amongst the passengers.

18th Jun 2021, 13:59
People don't like being locked up in their homes ad infinitum. My observations are that many remote workers use their newfound freedom from the office and face-to-face meetings by doing their jobs from various nice locations other than home. And why not - many warm and sunny countries can offer you somewhere nice to stay for a fraction of the cost of a UK railway pass. Savings from commuting, multiple sets of business attire and lunches outside add up to a significant sum over a few monts - and many choose to spend it on a trip somewhere nice to break the routine. So, that's one thing that makes up for some of the reduction in business travel (which, as rightly mentioned, is quite often more of a jolly at the company's expense than a strict necessity in order to get the job done).

21st Jun 2021, 10:16
I've spent far too much time sifting through IATA reports, airline reports, industry predictions etc. - the most prominent feature of the recovery is that nobody can be sure what is going to happen.

The first thing that I found to be intriguing was domestic market recovery. We've seen China surpass 2019 levels and reach 104% of that level already. The US domestic market is recovering well as we know, with growth being thwarted by lack of international numbers. IATA and ICAO have forecast strong a strong recovery to 80-90% of 2019 levels by the end of this year - this is largely in line with market sentiment.

It's no surprise to us that Europe is the outlier. Business travel makes up 10-20% of European 2019 traffic (Although the stats are not completely reliable!), but what is known is that business travel can make up to 75% of flight revenues. This is going to be the problem for airlines. Aircraft being filled with leisure travellers is inevitable as we continue the summer growth and recovery, but that becomes a problem as we enter Q3/Q4, where leisure travel trails off. This winter could be a big problem for the airlines, if business travel doesn't return to good levels, it could serve as a big blow.

With regards to business travel, one thing we know is that it simply is not going to reach 2019 levels for a few years. It can only be below it. How far below that level it will be remains to be seen and speculating on this is useless. My point is that this uncertainty will prove to be a big problem for airlines once the initial leisure boom subsides.

From a top-down view, I agree with the sentiment that this drop in business travel and WFH tendencies could lead to a climb in leisure travel, however this is not what an airline would choose. These types of customers are fundamentally different and will exacerbate this race to the bottom for air fares we've been seeing over the past few decades. I don't think that this increase in leisure travel would help to account for the loss in business travel - I imagine that it would be negligible.

This uncertainty coupled with the alarm bells ringing for ESG investing, global warming and zero emission trends will thwart growth and recovery. It's clear that we will recover well to 70-80% of 2019 levels, but at lower fares, and that final 10-20% will be the toughest (and most lucrative) to recover for the airlines. There are interesting times ahead for aviation for sure, and I really hope we can recover quicker than forecast - it's just not going to be easy!