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European Aviation in 2023

In the same vein as the previous articles where the overall condition of the Latin American aviation industry was shown, we have decided to focus this new instalment on the European aviation market. Such an enormous and active industry like the European one definitely deserves its own space. Given its relevance, the article will address the topic as follows: It will start by doing a summary of what 2022 meant to the European industry. Then, it will review the state of the industry in the first semester of 2023, and finally, it will explore what the next year might bring to the market.

Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain

Before we can delve into the current condition of the European market, it’s necessary to look back at how the industry did in 2022. Last year was greeted by the lingering effects of the pandemic (Omicron-variant spike at the beginning of the semester) and the totally unexpected Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, but even with these dramatic events, the balance was satisfactory. Eurocontrol’s last report proves that the market had a steady recovery: 2022 closed with 9.3 million flights, 3.1 million more than 2021, but still 1.8 million fewer than in 2019. As a whole, European aviation managed to achieve a stable 86-88% of 2019 traffic levels. It is worth mentioning that low-cost carriers were one of the big successes of 2022, outperforming most of their mainline and regional counterparts, thus ending the year on a positive note, despite the two challenges previously mentioned.

It seems that 2023 has been going down the same good path as 2022, at least as far as the number of flights is concerned. IATA has stated that European carriers showed a 38.5% traffic increase in March 2023, versus March 2022 numbers. More recently, a European Aviation Overview report published by Eurocontrol, which covers the week of 8 to 14 June, states that during that the first half of June, 31.648 flights were recorded. This meant a 6% increase versus 2022 numbers. Eurocontrol also reported that the top 10 European airlines have lost €1.3 billion during the first quarter of the year. However, put into perspective, these losses are a 54% improvement versus the same losses during the first quarter of 2022. It remains to be seen if 2023 will reach the numbers of 2022 but by examining the market behavior of the last year and a half, it is likely that it will.

Regardless of what 2023 is looking like for the European industry, the forecasts for 2024 are on a mildly optimistic tone. It is expected that the market will finally reach pre-pandemic levels of capacity by 2024. Moreover, Eurocontrol anticipates flight numbers will exceed 2019 records by 2025. Considering how both the pandemic and the war have severely impacted the industry, this is good news. And based on the positive trends the market has shown, there are grounds to envision a promising year.


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