Over 6,000 air routes that previously operated from Europe’s airports could not be restored even after nine months into the Covid-19 crisis, according to the 2020 Airport Industry Connectivity Report of Airports Council International (ACI) Europe.
The report revealed the systemic downfall of the aviation network and air connectivity due to the Covid-19 crisis.
EU/UK airports have been badly affected as their direct connectivity almost vanished in April. These airports then experienced a feeble recovery over the peak summer month of August at -55%, before declining again in September to -62%.
As of September, the airports that recorded the sharpest declines in direct connectivity were Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport at -71%, Rome–Fiumicino International Airport at -70%, Munich International Airport at -68%, Heathrow Airport at -68% and Frankfurt Airport at -67%.
Meanwhile, the direct connectivity decreases of the smaller regional airports were recorded at -96% in Linz, -95% at Treviso, -91% at Vaasa, -87% at Quimper, -86% at Newquay, -83% Shannon and -82% at Burgas.
However, direct connectivity at Russian and Turkish airports stood strong because of the size and relative dynamic domestic market.
Due to these factors, there were limited direct connectivity losses for Domodedovo Moscow Airport (-12%), Pulkovo Airport (-26%), Vnukovo International Airport (-28%), and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (-33%).
According to the report, hub connectivity was even more impacted than direct connectivity as major six European airports recovered only 16% of their hub connectivity by September.
Munich International at -93% and Heathrow Airport at -92%, experienced the steepest losses in hub connectivity, followed by Frankfurt Airport at -89%, Istanbul Airport at -85%, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at -81% and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol at -70%.
ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said: “The damage is so systemic that relying solely on market forces to restore air connectivity would not be realistic. The EU and governments across Europe must urgently intervene to help jump-start it. We need a Recovery Framework for aviation that includes ‘Air Connectivity Restart Schemes’ similar to that seen in Cyprus – with temporary financial contributions aimed at supporting the restart of air routes on a non-discriminatory basis.”
He added: “Air connectivity is an essential part of the productive capacity of our societies, with every 10% increase in direct air connectivity delivering a 0.5% increase in GDP per capita. It is what holds Europe together, by enabling local economic development, inward investment and tourism. We will not build back and recover without restoring air connectivity.”