EUROCONTROL Forecast Update 2021-2027

European Flight Movements and Service Units - Three scenarios for recovery from COVID-19
Airplane passenger looking out of a window

This forecast contains three scenarios and both the ‘baseline’ and ‘high’ scenarios show recovery to 2019 levels during the course of 2023, while this is delayed in the ‘low’ scenario until 2027.

It was published in October 2021 and replaced the forecast made in May 2021, before the summer season.

“Last year we had only five million flights but this summer has been very encouraging, with traffic close to our previous ‘high’ scenario and to airline expectations. As a result we expect to see about 6.2 million flights this year – still 44% fewer than we had in 2019. We are optimistic about traffic recovering to 2019 levels earlier than anticipated, with the baseline scenario indicating 9.8 million flights in 2022, just 11% down on 2019. But we must be aware that there are still significant downside risks that could affect the recovery”.

The High scenario envisages the vaccination campaign continuing both within Europe and globally, with reliable vaccines that continue to be effective, including against variants. With a coordinated interregional approach, travel restrictions are relaxed, with most inter-regional flows restarting by the middle of 2022. Business travel recovers quickly in this scenario.

The Baseline scenario is similar but with flows outside Europe recovering rather more slowly (partly as the result of a lack of a coordinated inter-regional approach) and with business travel only recovering to pre-COVID levels in 2023.

The Low scenario considers the impact of several downside risks, such as slow/patchy vaccination rates, the need for new vaccines as a result of variants, the reintroduction of lockdown and similar measures, the continuation or re-imposition of travel restrictions, economic risks, including high energy prices and a long term drop in people’s propensity to fly.

EUROCONTROL 7-year forecast for *Europe 2021-2027
Actual and future IFR movements, % traffic compared to 2019

*Europe = ECAC 44 Member States

The traffic figures refer to the number of flights, including both passenger and cargo. Recent experience has been that the recovery in the number of passengers is lagging behind the increase in the number of flights.

For more information, please consult our forecast document, its region definition annex and a statistical table, which includes data by individual State.

This 7-year forecast and corresponding scenarios were produced in October 2021. An updated version of the first part of the horizon (2022-2024 forecast) was published in June 2022.

Dealing with the shorter term (2022), a monthly forecast has been published in April 2022, showing a continuation of recent positive trends, in particular during the holiday period of Summer 2022, reaching 89% of 2019 traffic by August in our Base Scenario, with this level gently rising to end the year at 92%.

EUROCONTROL short-term traffic scenario for *Europe until 2022
% traffic compared to 2019

Our next 7-year forecast publication date is scheduled for October 2022.

Files

Seven-Year Forecast 2021- 2027 - Main report
Seven-Year Forecast 2021- 2027 - Region definition
Seven-Year Forecast 2021- 2027 - Forecast per state