EUROCONTROL has released a new long-time forecast of flights in Europe. In the most likely of the four scenarios considered, air traffic in Europe is expected to grow to 16.9 million flights in 2030, i.e. 1.8 times more than in 2009.
Air transport planners need to take a long-term view, whether they are at airports, airlines or in the SESAR programme, which is delivering Europe’s air traffic management system for the 2020s. After the turbulence of 2008 and 2009, this biennial update of the long-term flight forecast aims to help planners to refine their route to the future.
The average annual growth is likely to be between 1.6% and 3.9%, leading to between 13.1 and 20.9 million flights in 2030. For the first time, the forecast includes a scenario on how air traffic might develop when the supply of oil has peaked. According to the forecast, growth will be faster in the early years, stronger in Eastern Europe and for arrivals and departures to and from outside Europe than for intra-European flights, Turkey being the largest generator of extra flights in European and Germany seeing the biggest number of additional flights in its airspace.
“There is growth to come over the next 20 years but it may look quite different from what we have been used to”, said David Marsh, Head of Forecasting. Each market segment will be different, long-haul different from short-haul and each part of Europe will be different”, he adds.
Growth will however be limited by airport capacity: Between 0.7 and 5 million flights will be unaccommodated in 2030, representing from 5% to 19% of the demand. In addition to unaccommodated demand, airport capacity constraints have an effect on the flow of operations in the network. The decline in traffic in 2008 and 2009 has eased the pressure on airport capacity but, in the longer-term, the demand will grow and airports will not always be able to fully respond. The network will be more vulnerable to delays that will propagate more rapidly and widely.