This CODA Digest covers the full year 2020 and is published while European aviation remains strongly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have reduced the CODA Digest to a minimum level of reporting. In this annual report we give whole year averages, however they are averages over two very different periods, as the COVID-19 pandemic developed in Europe from March 2020. With this, we caution against any in-depth comparison with previous years.
2020 was clearly divided into two periods – before and after the COVID-19 pandemic impacted aviation. January/February were comparable to early 2019, with industrial actions causing en-route ATFM delays - but with lower overall delay and slightly fewer flights compared to 2019. The remainder of the year from March 2021 onwards saw unprecedented operational conditions, with the COVID-19 pandemic strongly influencing the entire aviation industry, with en-route ATFM delays virtually disappearing and COVID-19 related delay causes becoming prominent for the remainder of the year. Yearly flights fell, translating to a reduction of 55% in comparison to 2019. In terms of overall delay for 2020, the average delay per flight decreased by 5.6 minutes to 7.4 minutes per flight.
This reduction in overall delay is highlighted by high arrival punctuality, with 89.9% of flights arriving within 15 minutes or earlier than their scheduled arrival time (STA). Amongst the changing operational conditions early departures also increased, in turn making flights arrive even earlier than their scheduled arrival time.
En-route ATFM delays fell to 0.4 minutes/flight with only a small amount of ATFM delays being observed during the year, predominantly in January and February where French industrial actions occurred. Analysis into the causes of delay, shows the main change in delay came in those related to COVID-19, grouped by CODA as governmental causes*, these delay codes are used to record delays due to mandatory security or immigration, customs and health related delays. The contribution of this cause to the average delay/flight almost doubled in 2020, contributing 0.5 minutes per flight compared to 0.3 minutes in 2019, translating to a 10% share of generated primary delay minutes.