Traffic scenario

Updated EUROCONTROL Traffic Scenarios for 2021: Clear hope for some recovery this summer and beyond

Lady at the airport wearing a mask

EUROCONTROL has issued a new set of Traffic Scenarios detailing the monthly evolution for the period up to December 2021. Air traffic throughout Europe was 61% down in May 2021 compared to May 2019. While the crisis continues, the trend is moving upwards and there is hope of some recovery this summer.

It is very clear that there is massive underlying demand for air travel so, as travel restrictions ease, we can expect a good increase in traffic. Our baseline scenario indicates that the number of flights should rise from 39% of 2019 levels in May to 57% in August. Traffic has been hovering at around 35% since January, so we’re looking at around 5.5 million flights for the full year, which is 50% of 2019.

”However, if more States relax their restrictions sooner and fully implement procedures such as the EU’s Digital COVID Certificate as soon as possible, then our optimistic scenario could see the network handling 69% of 2019 traffic levels in August. Naturally, there will be significant variations linked to individual States’ travel restrictions, so some parts of the network might perform better than others.”

Eamonn Brennan Director General, EUROCONTROL

This new short-term monthly forecast for the period June to December 2021 is based on three scenarios. The vaccine progress and the relaxation of State measures on non-essential travel are the key drivers determining the forecasting of travel levels between the baseline projection for the network (Scenario 2), the optimistic projection (Scenario 1) and the pessimistic projection (Scenario 3).

EUROCONTROL Traffic Scenarios

1 June 2021 (base year 2019)

EUROCONTROL summarises the situation between now and the end of December 2021 as follows:

  • Scenario 1 assumes widespread vaccination take-up across the European network by summer 2021 coupled with a coordinated easing of travel restraints, and the resumption of a few long-haul flows. This scenario is aligned with the airlines’ plans for the summer months built on the pent-up demand effect, particularly for the VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) market.
  • Scenario 2 assumes widespread vaccination take-up across Europe and coordinated easing of travel restraints being reached by Q1 2022 between global regions, with more long-haul flows starting to return.
  • Scenario 3 envisages persistent restrictions over the coming years owing to patchy vaccine uptakes and/or renewed outbreaks of new virus strains, with passenger confidence negatively impacted.

EUROCONTROL’s monthly traffic scenarios produced in April 2020, September 2020 and January 2021 have shown a high degree of accuracy.

“On 28 January 2021, we predicted that the total number of flights handled by the European network would about 39% of 2019 levels in May, which was precisely what occurred. It’s very difficult to forecast numbers at the moment as there are so many variables at play, but we’ve been pretty close consistently since the start of the pandemic. We are developing these numbers in close consultation with individual airlines across a large sample of airlines and market segments.”

Eamonn Brennan explained
For further information:

Kyla Evans 
Email: [email protected]

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Note to editors


EUROCONTROL is a pan-European, civil-military organisation dedicated to supporting European aviation. As Europe’s Network Manager, we play a central coordination role, using our technical expertise to support Member States and a wide range of stakeholders (air navigation service providers, civil and military airspace users, airports and aircraft/equipment manufacturers). We strive to make European aviation safe, efficient, scalable, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable, partnering the European Union to make the Single European Sky a reality.

EUROCONTROL has 41 Member States: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. EUROCONTROL has Comprehensive Agreements with Morocco and Israel.

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