Monday, January 24

The air sector operates 2% more flights in winter and warns of collapses and delays


Planes parked at El Prat airport
Planes parked at El Prat airportTHE WORLD

The air sector foresees a recovery for this winter season, which runs from November to March, with almost 2% more scheduled flights than in the same period of 2019. There are 672,000 flights, according to data from the Air Lines Association (ALA), which groups more than 60 companies that, in total, fly 85% of air traffic in Spain.

“It is very good news,” said its president, Javier Gndara, in a ceremony to present the balance and forecasts. S has clarified that the winter of 2019 includes the last two weeks of March 2020, when it stopped flying because the pandemic broke out. In the Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands there are already 10% more flights scheduled than in the winter of 2019. If these figures are compared with 2018 (the full year without Covid), they are still 5% below the flights operated.

“This recovery trajectory that we are on is going to continue, but that flights are scheduled does not mean that passenger traffic will recover, because the planes are not as full as before, although we hope that in 2022 we can reach these levels of occupancy as before, “it has had an impact. Before the pandemic, the occupancy of flights was at 85% and now it is 68%.” This is the beginning of the recovery, We hope that it will be consolidated in 2022 so that in 2023 we will recover those levels of traffic prior to the pandemic, “he said.

Ms policas

At this start, there is concern that there is congestion of the airspace, because, as explained by Gndara, although there are still fewer flights than in 2019 “there is already congestion and delays in Europe”. “It worries us, and especially for the summer of 2022.” Another problem will be the jam in passport controls, especially in non-EU countries and with the United Kingdom, after Brexit.

The sector asks for it that the police force at airports be increased “before the next summer season in 2022” to avoid collapses. The causes are the same as before the pandemic (capacity and resources), and to this is added that the controls at airports are more exhaustive: security and health. Gndara recalled that 80% of the delays that affect Spain are generated outside of Spain.


These are the optimistic forecasts for the winter considering that now “flight schedules are much more short-term” (people book more flights at the last minute, without much anticipation). This summer season (from April to October) 58% of the flights were operated compared to 2019 and so far this year 51% of the flights have been operated with respect to the pre-pandemic year. If we talk about passenger traffic, this summer only 42% of the passengers who did so in prepandemic flew.

Domestic traffic is the engine of this recovery (90% of pre-pandemic passengers have recovered on these flights), but business traffic, which is what fuels flights in the winter season, is still stagnant.

Regarding international traffic, 53% has recovered. The opening of travel in essential markets for Spain, such as the United Kingdom, “will continue to reactivate intra-European traffic.” The US has already also opened its borders for non-essential travel and encouraging intercontinental traffic. With regard to air cargo, between January and September 93% of the air cargo in 2019 has already been transported.

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