But that doesn’t mean that European aviation in 2024 will be the same as in 2019. We can already see that there will be many changes and we need to be preparing for them. In fact, we need to be driving change. 2019 saw air traffic management (ATM) in several parts of Europe straining to meet the demand of over 11 million flights. We had massive delays (en-route delays were over three times the target level) and the measures taken to minimise delays sometimes resulted in more inefficient flights, at a cost both to the airlines and to the environment. So we don’t want to be in the same position as 2019 once traffic recovers to that level and for that reason it is essential that we secure a good outcome from the ongoing EU Single European Sky reform negotiations in the coming months.
Changes are anyway happening in every part of the sector. Manufacturers are focusing on the latest, most fuel-efficient models as a result of demand from the airlines, several of which are also changing the mix within aircraft with more premium economy seating. Recently Lufthansa said that the financial contribution per square metre of premium economy was 39% higher than that of business class. This rebalancing of the cabin is also driven by concerns over how much business travel there will be post-recovery, now that video conferencing has moved from an occasional experience in a specially equipped room, to an everyday experience from your desk – or wherever you happen to be.