Eurocontrol released its annual report on air traffic in Europe for the year 2021, and it is with strong faith that aviation is expected to continue its recovery in 2022.
The start of the year 2021 was historically weak, with a traffic of 39% compared to the same period in 2019. However, as is well known, there was an increase during the summer and we witnessed a strong October that ended with 81% of traffic compared to 2019. When we went into the autumn we all were convinced that the market would recover faster, but then came Omicron and we got to see more restrictions and new entry regulations for different countries.
At the beginning of December, the positive trend had ceased and we had a decrease in traffic, 75%, but ended December with 81%. Which led to an annual average of 56% of the European traffic compared to 2019.
So how did Scandinavia stand in relation to other member states in Europe?
During the pandemic, Norway was able to call itself the country with the most domestic traffic in the whole world, and even today the traffic in Norway has continued to be strong. Much because of the infrastructure that exists in the country, with isolated islands or mainlands with fjords. Traffic in Norway during the year 2021 has only landed at – 36% in drop-outs compared to 2019. This means that Norway ends up in the honored 11th place out of the 42 member countries from which Eurocontrol collects data.
Sweden and Denmark are the countries most affected by the pandemic based on the figures presented by Eurocontrol. We find Denmark and Sweden in places 35th and 38th which is with the largest differences in traffic compared with 2019. These countries can present a 55% and 56% reduction in traffic. One reason for this is that Sweden and Denmark are not as strong in the domestic market as our neighboring country Norway.
So when we get a European market that on average is at the same levels as 2019, it is an average based on the whole of Europe. This certainly means that Sweden and Denmark will have to lag behind for many years before we have reached the same levels as the rest of Europe.
In terms of the Scandinavian airlines, the Norwegian airline Wideroe is the winner with only -7% loss of traffic. Something that can once again be answered as they have a large operation of state-procured traffic to secure Norwegian infrastructure. In terms of SAS, which operates throughout Scandinavia, it is the whole – 61% dropout, but the worst is Norwegian with a full -76% dropout. However, something that can be explained by their reconstruction and hardly any activity in the first half of the year.
The situation for January is less clear, however, and some major airlines are already reducing capacity by up to 30% in January.
Eurocontrol is tracking the market in 2022 with that traffic is expected to recover to 70-90% of 2019 levels.