EUROCONTROL Think Paper #8 - Impact of COVID-19 on European Aviation in 2020 and Outlook 2021

Man at checkin wearing a mask

After the worst year for European aviation in living memory, just how bad was 2020 for all aviation actors, what does 2021 hold, and what needs to be addressed to ensure that the sector ‘builds back better’ going forward?

EUROCONTROL’s latest Think Paper, the eighth in a series of thought-provoking papers aimed at industry leaders and policy-makers, uses exclusive EUROCONTROL aviation data to run the big numbers for 2020, providing a timely and authoritative review of the total impact of COVID-19 on flights, airlines, aircraft, airports, European

States, air navigation service providers (ANSPs), and on sustainability.

Headline impacts of a year like none other include:

  • 56.2 billion losses for airlines, airports & ANSPs
  • 1.7 billion fewer passengers
  • 6.1 million fewer flights, 55% down on 2019
  • 51% of all aircraft grounded at year-end

Looking forward, our Think Paper predicts that 2021 traffic will recover to 51% of 2019 volumes, with the recovery gathering pace from the summer onwards as vaccine rollouts take effect. And it concludes that in parallel, 2021 represents a golden opportunity to build back better European aviation by urgently tackling existing problems.

“We’re confident that the recovery will start to firm up in 2021 as the vaccine rolls out across the globe. However, it’s clear that the entire aviation sector will continue to need financial support in the years ahead. And if we are really to ‘build back better’ in 2021, we must start tackling core issues, such as the way the aviation system is financed, regulated and integrated, and how it addresses sustainability.

Eamonn Brennan Director General, EUROCONTROL

Download the full paper to learn more.

Think Papers are produced to stimulate debate and look at alternatives. They do not represent the official view of the Agency or its Member States.


EUROCONTROL Think Paper No. 8: Impact of COVID-19 on European Aviation in 2020 and Outlook 2021