EUROCONTROL has been working on weekly recovery plans since the end of April 2020 so we’re now very experienced at looking at the signs and trying to work out what recovery will look like over a six-week period. Since the start of the year, in consideration of COVID-19, European States have been trying their best to keep a lid on international travel so I think we have a good idea of what’s going to happen, especially as we now have close collaboration with airports, airlines and air navigation service providers (ANSPs).
Our planning has become a great deal more precise as airlines are now providing us with much more accurate information. Airlines, especially the low-cost carriers, have done a lot more modelling around when passengers will be more likely to buy tickets if they are confident of their travel plans. And we have had a lot of practice now – we’ve produced over 24 rolling sixweek plans, with many four-week plans prior to that.
We have released the network Ops Plan for the summer this year, predicated on many States opening up, and this been developed with more information than we’ve ever had before, mainly because airlines and airports have had more time to look scientifically at what they're going to do and how they’re going to ramp up.
Low-cost carriers say they can get back to 80%-plus capacity in under ten days, so we have to make sure that ATC at airports and ANSPs are ready, not just from the point of view of air traffic but also practically on the ground with all the support that is required, at airports, which is why we are working with stakeholders like ACI EUROPE. Airlines understand that while they may be able to ramp up very quickly, they will need to give as much notice as possible to those suppliers in the network. This is where the close coordination and rolling plans really provide a single point of truth and focus. We’ve also been running a series of webinars with ACI EUROPE around the spacing required in terminals for COVID-19 compliance – and understanding how their planning is linked to airline schedules.