More gloom as European traffic predicted to decline

March 25: Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, predicts that the economic crunch will take a big bite out of European air traffic in 2009, with a predicted reduction of flights of nearly 5%. Some countries, such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Sweden are set to be particularly affected.

According to its forecast, the decline in traffic will affect all sectors – even the low-cost market is not immune, as in November 2008 it saw its first 12-month decline in 15 years. The business aviation market is also declining – down by 21% in February 2009 compared to February 2008. The weak trans-Atlantic traffic caused by the economic and financial crisis has wiped out any benefits of the EU-US Open Skies agreement that came into effect last spring.

“As passengers look for cheaper ticket options, yields are falling and load factors remain weak despite airlines cutting capacity in the winter,” said David Marsh, Head of Forecasting. “All of these factors suggest that this decrease will not be short-lived and the recovery in traffic growth is not expected before the end of 2009 with, at best, weak growth in 2010.”

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