Travel restrictions shrink European aviation, but not COVID-19

Premium Analysis

Throughout 3Q2020 a patchwork of travel restrictions and quarantines was in place across Europe, aimed at limiting COVID-19 transmission.

However, a Nov-2020 analysis by ACI Europe shows no correlation between infection rates and air passenger traffic, based on data from this period. This suggests that travel restrictions are not effective where community transmission is already present.

Nevertheless, quarantines and restrictions continue to erode European aviation. Airline seat capacity in the continent remains in an increasingly distant last place behind the other regions. Europe's year-on-year cut in seat capacity widened to -73.8% in the week of 23-Nov-2020 – its biggest cut since Jun-2020, and 13.2ppts below the Middle East on -60.6%.

Africa is on -58.5%, Latin America at -50.0%, North America at -42.0%, and Asia Pacific is on -37.9%.

In spite of attempts at the EU level to promote a common approach to testing, European nations are divided on this issue, just as they are on travel restrictions. Pending fully available and widely administered vaccines, European aviation will continue to wither unless a commonly agreed system of testing air travellers is introduced.

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