Commercial flights see some improvement in March 2022

In March 2022, the number of commercial flights in the EU increased by 156% compared with March 2021. However, this is still below the pre-pandemic levels (-27% compared with March 2019). 

In absolute terms, the number of commercial flights stood at 389 181 in March 2022, compared with 151 986 in March 2021, 296 362 in March 2020 and 530 400 in March 2019. 

The EU countries with the lowest decreases in commercial flights in March 2022 were Croatia (-6% compared with March 2019), Portugal (-8%) and Greece (-12%). In contrast, flights decreased the most in Slovenia (-56%), Sweden (-45%), Latvia (-43%), Czechia (-42%) and Finland (-41%).

Bar chart: Commercial flights, March 2022 compared with March 2019 (% change)

Source dataset: avia_tf_cm

On track to recovery: top 10 extra-EU countries 

Since 2019, the impact COVID-19 has had on commercial flights traffic between the EU and its 10 biggest extra-EU countries (based on 2019 annual data) has been clear: UK, Switzerland, Turkey, U.S., Russia, Norway, Morocco, Israel, Ukraine and Egypt. 

After the unprecedented drops in April and May 2020, following lockdowns implemented across the EU and the rest of the world, flight numbers seemed to be on the way to recovery but that soon failed due to the different COVID-19 waves. June of 2021 marked the beginning of an increased number of flights with the top 10 extra-EU countries but still below 2019 levels. 

Compared with March 2019, commercial flights in 2022 remain below the pre-pandemic levels with all top-10 extra-EU countries, most noticeably with Norway (-34%), the UK (-29%), Israel (-28%), Switzerland (-24%) and Egypt (-19%). However, when compared with March 2021, there is a clear increase in traffic with eight countries: UK (+599%), Norway (+375%s), Israel (+366%), Morocco (+236%), Switzerland (+230%), Egypt (+192%), Turkey (+121%), and the U.S. (+77%). 

Due to the ongoing conflict, in March 2022, commercials flights with Russia and Ukraine came to a standstill: there were 52 flights with Russia and zero with Ukraine, compared with March 2019. In March 2019, before the pandemic hit, there were 14 493 flights with Russia and 5 414 with Ukraine. In 2021, those numbers had decreased 77% for Russia and 71% for Ukraine.

Timeline: Commercial flights with top 10 non-EU countries (% change compared with the same month in 2019; part 1/2)


Timeline: Commercial flights with top 10 non-EU countries (% change compared with the same month in 2019; part 2/2)

Source dataset: Eurocontrol special data extraction

For more information: 

Methodological notes:

  • The source of this monthly data on commercial flights is Eurocontrol, a pan-European, civil-military organisation dedicated to supporting European aviation. Data on commercial flights include scheduled and non-scheduled commercial flights (passengers, freight and mail) performed under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). For more information, please refer to the methodological file.
  • Attention to methodological differences should be paid when comparing this monthly data with Eurostat data on passenger, freight and mail air transport collected within Regulation 437/2003. For more information about Eurostat data collection, please refer to this methodological file.

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