EUROCONTROL's Oct-2021 traffic forecasts are slightly more optimistic than the Jun-2021 version. It now expects Europe to return to 2019 flight numbers in late 2023, whereas this was previously forecast for 2024.
Meanwhile, as Europe approaches its second winter season since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, its capacity recovery remains in the doldrums.
Total seat numbers in Europe have now been stuck in a range of 33% to 35% below 2019 levels for 12 successive weeks. In the week of 18-Oct-2021, Europe's capacity is down by 33.3% versus the equivalent week of 2019, keeping it in fourth place in the regional capacity recovery ranking.
Below Europe are Asia Pacific, where seat capacity is down by 37.3%, and the Middle East, down by 37.2%. Africa, down by 28.6%; Latin America, down by 21.6%; and North America, down by 17.9%, are ahead of Europe in the capacity recovery.
A year ago in 2020 Europe was at the bottom of the regional ranking, with capacity 63.4% below 2019 levels. Europe's capacity recovery may have stalled for now, but it is in a better position than it was in when it was approaching last winter.