Pan-European civil aviation organisation Eurocontrol forecasts European air traffic will remain almost 60% down on 2019 at the end of the year.

Eurocontrol revised down its traffic forecasts for the next six months, with director general Eamonn Brennan saying: “We’re going backwards. It’s worrying for the entire industry.”

Brennan said: “There is a lack of coordination between states on how to manage air travel despite guidance from the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

“There is a lot of confusion and very little passenger confidence and outbreaks of Covid-19 are picking up across Europe.”

Brennan insisted: “Our new ‘current status scenario’ could improve if there was more coordination between states on how best to handle air travel through harmonised testing and common epidemiological assessment criteria.

“That would give more predictability for passengers, airports and airlines.”

But he warned: “It could get even worse if states continue to impose blanket restrictions and quarantine measures.

“This approach is killing the travel and tourism industry.”

He urged Europe’s governments to adopt EC proposals to harmonise border and travel restrictions.

Eurocontrol’s previous draft traffic scenario, published in late April, forecast a gradual recovery in air traffic from 89% down in April to 50% down in August and proved remarkably accurate.

It assumed “that if the trend remained positive, the gradual recovery could continue for the rest of 2020” and also assumed “a restoration of some inter-continental operations”.

However, since mid-August Eurocontrol noted: “States have been imposing individual and uncoordinated national restrictions, quarantine requirements and testing measures.

“Often these measures are announced with very short notice. This uncoordinated approach has led to much confusion and eroded passenger confidence.

“Forward bookings for airlines over the coming months are extremely low.

“By September 13, traffic was already down 53% for the month compared to the same period in 2019.

Taking this into account, the ‘current status scenario’ assumes that:

  • States remain uncoordinated in their response to cross-border air travel;
  • Leisure and business passenger demand remains extremely low;
  • Airlines further reduce capacity in response to the collapse in forward bookings;
  • Restoration of inter-continental operations remains very limited.