Air traffic decline in 2020 spurs concerns about the future of the aviation industry

Photograph: Pascal Meier/Unsplash

There has been a decrease of more than 70% of air traffic in 2020, reports Statistics Netherlands. The drop of international flights has been the consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdowns imposed in multiple countries, stopping people from travelling abroad. The amount of flights that took place in 2020 raised concerns about the aviation sector and the way it would recover from the current damage.

According to The Pilot Survey 2021, more than 50% of the pilots who filled in the survey world wide thought that it would take up to two or three years for aviation to recover completely to pre-Covid times and 30% of them were unemployed.

The data from Statistics Netherlands shows significant differences between the air traffic of 2019 and 2020. The five main airports in the country saw fewer travelers in 2020 than ever before, endangering the job security of airline workers.

Graph: Statistics Netherlands

“I think in two years the aviation will be recovered,” says Sander Hofstee, a pilot in training at the Groningen Airport Eelde. “Once we are allowed to travel again the sector will recover quickly but there will be a shift. I think there will be demand for international flights, although business trips will be way less, because people found out they can do their job just as well from home,” he adds.

Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun told the CNN that the recovery of the sector is not imminent, explaining that the next year would be challenging for the whole industry.

Now the Netherlands is facing a travel ban from the government, which restricts flights to the country from the UK, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and more. The constant lockdowns during the past years prevented from traveling many people but did not completely stop them from doing so. As a consequence, there has been a decline in intercontinental travel, but EU flights saw a slight growth, reports the NL Times.

Schiphol airport is empty even today, almost a year after the first outbreak of the pandemic in the country. There are a few people there, mainly those who work at the airport, while pilots and flight attendant are walking by. This shows what kind of influence the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the aviation industry.

Schiphol Airport, Photograph: Polya Pencheva

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