Europe's high frequency long haul network shrinks around hubs

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Europe's long haul network has maintained much of its overall footprint from before the COVID-19 pandemic, measured by the number of routes with at least one weekly return flight.

However, there has been a much more dramatic fall in the number of high frequency long haul routes (defined as those with three daily return flights or more).

According to EUROCONTROL, the total number of long haul airport pairs from Europe fell by only 21% in Feb-2021 compared with Feb-2019, but the number of high frequency long haul routes fell by 69%, from 61 to 19.

The biggest destination region is the Middle East, which accounted for nine of the 19 routes; six were to the USA and four were to Asia Pacific. The North Atlantic has suffered the most, losing 75% of its high frequency routes, versus 67% for Europe-Asia Pacific and only 40% for Europe-Middle East.

Hub airports now dominate at both ends of Europe's long haul high frequency route network, demonstrating the appeal of hub economics in times of very low demand (and apparently in spite of consumer concerns over multiple touch points).

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