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UK aviation: Europe's #1 market falls to #6 as Russia and Turkey lead

Premium Analysis

The UK, long established as Europe's biggest aviation market before the COVID-19 pandemic, has slumped to sixth place by weekly seats in the week commencing 15-Feb-2021.

Russia and Turkey, previously smaller than the five big western European nations (UK, Germany, Spain, France and Italy) by weekly seats, are now Europe's top two markets.

The UK has suffered from high COVID-19 case numbers, including new variants of the disease, and consequent tighter restrictions on international travel. Moreover, it has the smallest domestic market among Europe's top seven aviation nations, leaving it little back-up when international markets are all but closed.

A cautious approach by the UK government suggests that restrictions are unlikely to be lifted in the short term, in spite of the country having one of the world's most advanced vaccination programmes.

Nevertheless, its vaccination progress, together with a higher propensity for air travel than the rest of Europe and a dynamic, LCC-led airline industry, provide real hope for a strong snap-back in UK aviation when restrictions do ease.

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