According to new analysis from Cirium, intra-European international seat capacity has fallen by half across ten of the continent’s busiest airports since the pre-Christmas peak.
The decline comes as travellers grapple with the increasingly complex array of restrictions designed to contain the spread of more transmissible strains of Covid-19.
Lisbon Airport’s rolling seven-day arrival seat average was just 3,000 on Monday, February 8th – less than a quarter of the December 23rd total – following moves by Germany and the UK to ban entry to travellers from the southern European country.
Meanwhile the UK government’s further tightening of entry restrictions during the nation’s third national lockdown saw London Heathrow’s intra-region arrival seats fall to a little more than 5,100 – down from approximately 19,000 just before Christmas.
Frankfurt dropped from over 20,300 to just under 10,500 over the same period.
On Monday, February 10th – the equivalent day a year earlier – Heathrow recorded just under 50,000 inbound seats on cross-border flights from European airports, while Frankfurt saw nearly 51,000.
Although optimism persists that vaccination programmes will lead to the phased relaxing of travel restrictions in time for Europe’s summer holiday peak, uncertainty remains over the ability of governments to control Covid-19 mutations against which current vaccines may prove less effective.
More data is also needed to assess the full impact of mass vaccinations on case rates and hospitalisations.
Cirium classifies 46 per cent – or just under 3,000 – of the passenger jets operated by European airlines as having in-storage status, which is significantly higher than the global average of 32 per cent.