West-to-East traffic shift continues for summer 2012

Brussels, Belgium – Over the summer months (June to September included), European traffic has been close to the last forecast published in May 2012. Nevertheless, high oil prices, a weaker economic outlook and other factors have all led to a downwards revision of the forecast. The forecast update is for 1.5% fewer flights in 2012 and a stagnation in 2013.

The number of flights in European airspace in summer 2012 fell by 1.5% when compared to summer 2011. This hides large disparities between different types of market segments with some posting growth and others large decreases.

The overall drop in the summer traffic for 2012 was driven by a fall (-3.7%) in traditional scheduled flights. This was only partially offset by an increase in the two other main categories: low-cost (up 4.4%) and charter (up 3.9%).

Table 1: Breakdown of traffic per market segment

Market SegmentAverage daily flightsMarket shareGrowth on 2011
All-Cargo9443.2%-5.7%
Business Aviation2,1577.3%-3.5%
Charter2,0446.9% 3.9%
Low-cost7,847 26.7%4.4%
Other1,0653.6%-10.6%
Traditional Scheduled15,38252.2%-3.7%
TOTAL29,439100%-1.5%

A further analysis reveals the recent pattern experienced in European airspace: traffic is gradually shifting from West to East. The busiest airports on a daily basis depict an imbalanced picture as half of them grow and the remaining shrink. The shift is illustrated by two airports in opposite regions. Madrid Barajas (-12.1%) and Istanbul-Ataturk (+12.3%) show the biggest changes in percentage points.

Table 2: 10 busiest departure airports per average daily departures

RankDeparture airportAverage daily departures% change vs. Summer 2011
1PARIS CH DE GAULLE716-3.6%
2FRANKFURT MAIN7001.6%
3LONDON/HEATHROW666-1.4%
4SCHIPHOL AMSTERDAM6490.4%
5MUENCHEN 2564-3.0%
6MADRID BARAJAS538-12.1%
7ISTANBUL-ATATURK518 12.3%
8ROME FIUMICINO485-1.7%
9BARCELONA459 0.7%
10LONDON/GATWICK3930.0%

Spain and Turkey were also the countries with the highest variability in terms of city pairs. Istanbul-Izmir grew remarkably compared to the previous year. Two major Spanish pairs showed substantial decreases: Barcelona-Madrid and Barcelona-Palma. These were the only three pairs to have fluctuations of over ±10%.

Table 3: 10 busiest airport pairs per number of daily flights

RankDeparture airport Arrival airport

Average daily movements

(both directions)

 % change vs. Summer 2011
1ISTANBUL-ATATURKIZMIR-ADNAN-MENDERES6413.8%
2BARCELONAMADRID BARAJAS55-22.5%
3ISTANBUL-ATATURKANTALYA503.5%
4PARIS ORLYTOULOUSE BLAGNAC485.3%
5PARIS ORLYNICE474.3%
6BARCELONA   PALMA DE MALLORCA45-10.4%
7OSLO/GARDERMOENTRONDHEIM/VAERNES45   4.1%
8OSLO/GARDERMOENBERGEN/FLESLAND44-2.0%
9 ROME FIUMICINOMILANO LINATE430.2%
10OSLO/GARDERMOENSTAVANGER/SOLA414.6%

Some of the main European hubs appear on the top 10 departure airports most affected by all-causes of delay. During the summer, airports situated in typical tourist destinations joined the list. With the exception of Paris Charles de Gaulle, all the departure airports among the top 10 most affected are to be found in the UK or the Iberian peninsula. The summer 2012 average all-cause delay per flight was 9.4 min which represents a reduction of 18% compared to 2011. The percentage of flights delayed by more than 5 minutes also fell by 3.8% year on year.

Table 4: 10 airports with highest departure delay per flight

RankDeparture airportAverage Delay per flight (min)% of delayed flights
1LISBOA   19.060.1%
2MANCHESTER16.446.7%
3LONDON/GATWICK13.748.3%
4PALMA DE MALLORCA12.746.4%
5IBIZA12.740.9%
6LONDON/HEATHROW12.448.1%
7PARIS CH DE GAULLE12.052.3%
8ALICANTE12.044.0%
9MALAGA11.941.8%
10LONDON/LUTON11.940.4%

For more information on forecasts, please refer to the Seven-Year Flight Forecast – Flight Movements 2012-2018.

Related links

Statistics and Forecasts service (STATFOR)

Central Office for Delay Analysis (CODA)

Note to editors
This press release was prepared using data from STAFOR and CODA. STATFOR, the Statistics and Forecasts service (STATFOR) provides statistics and forecasts on air traffic in Europe and analyses its evolution. The Central Office for Delay Analysis (CODA) provides policy makers and managers of the ECAC Air Transport System with the relevant information on the air traffic delay situation in Europe. EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, has as its primary objective to develop a seamless, pan-European air traffic management (ATM) system that fully copes with the growth in air traffic, while maintaining a high level of safety, reducing costs and respecting the environment. EUROCONTROL has 39 Member States: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. On 8 October 2002, the Member States and the European Community signed a Protocol on the Accession of the European Community to the revised EUROCONTROL Convention. Pending its entry into force after ratification by all Parties, certain provisions of the Protocol are already being provisionally applied.