Up to 48,200 flights and 10.2 million airline seats are at risk in a ‘totemic moment’ triggered by a 30-day closure of EU borders, according to latest estimates.

Air France, which has around 800,000 seats between the EU and other world regions, is expected to suffer the worst from the restrictions.

Next come Lufthansa, Emirates, KLM, Wizz Air, Qatar Airways, Ryanair, Turkish Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Aeroflot, according to travel analytics firm ForwardKeys.


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For the purposes of the EU’s guidance, the UK is not considered to be a ‘third country’ so the number of seats in jeopardy for this analysis does not include air traffic between the UK and EU countries.

However, with Ryanair’s announcement that it expects to stop “most if not all” flights by March 24 and to cut 80% of its schedules before then, the impact on European air travel will likely be “substantially greater” than the 48,200 flights put at risk by the EU’s guidance.

The EU nations which stand to lose the most flights are the largest, with France expected to be the most substantially affected, potentially losing more than two million seats.

Germany could lose just under two million, and then the Netherlands and Spain, each with around one million seats.

ForwardKeys insights vice president Olivier Ponti said: “At present, it is not clear exactly what proportion of the 48,200 flights between the EU and so-called ‘third countries’ will be cancelled, because the EU guidelines clearly contemplate that a skeleton service needs to be maintained for essential travel and it is up to each member state to decide on the extent of implementation in their own territory.

“However, it is inevitable that this guidance will have an extremely substantial negative impact on connectivity.”

He added: “Air capacity to and from China has fallen to a fifth of what it was before the coronavirus outbreak.

“With the imposition of a ban on travel to the USA from Schengen countries on Friday 13th and from the UK and Ireland on Monday 16th, almost nobody can go to the USA from Europe.

“Now, with the latest restrictions on travel, this time proposed by the EU, we are looking at a totemic moment in the reduction of air travel and connectivity between different regions of the world.”