EU Air Traffic Levels Continue To Be Impacted By Global Economic Recession


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EU Air Traffic Levels Continue To Be Impacted By Global Economic Recession

By Jim Douglas

January 13, 2012 - There were 522,959 flights in Irish controlled airspace in 2011, according to statistics published by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). This represents a 2% increase on the 513,236 flights recorded in 2010.

However, more significantly, the 2011 performance is 13% below the number of flights in 2008, the peak year for Irish traffic, and is only on a par with volumes being achieved pre 2005. 

Combined commercial terminal traffic movements for Dublin, Shannon and Cork in 2011 were up marginally on 2010. However the traffic levels were 27.5% less than those recorded in 2008. Traffic for individual airports was:

- Dublin recorded 154,457 commercial terminal flights in 2011, an increase of 0.9% on 2010 but 23% less than that recorded in 2008.

- Shannon recorded 19,275 commercial terminal flights in 2011, up 2.7% on 2010 but a 42% drop on 2008 levels.  

- Cork recorded 22,173 commercial terminal flights in 2011, down 6.2% on 2010 but 36% down on 2008 levels.  

There were 300,408 en route movements in 2011, up 2.6% on 2010 but down 3.1% on the peak 2008 figures. Flights served by the IAAs North Atlantic Communications Centre in 2011 totaled 403,534, up 3.7% on 2010 but down 4.4% on the peak 2008 levels. 

In comparing traffic volumes for 2011 with those of 2010, the IAA carried out an assessment on the impact of traffic in 2010 due to the ash cloud crisis. In summary this found that the difference in traffic volumes between 2011 and 2010 was flat with the exception of Cork airport where the volumes were down. 

Mr. Eamonn Brennan, Chief Executive IAA said that a reduction in traffic volumes was very disappointing but was not unexpected in the context of the global economic crises. The Authority will continue to support the airline industry in this difficult economic period he said. 


"En route charges in Irish airspace have been reduced by 8% this year and we hope to reduce these further in 2013 and 2014. Our reductions greatly exceed the minimum 3.5% required by the Single European Sky II package and Ireland is the fourth lowest in Europe for air traffic control charges to airlines in 2012. 

"The terminal charges have also been reduced by 21% this month and will be cut by 6% yearly from 2013 to 2015. We will also be making some changes to services, including significant cost-cutting, to ensure we can deliver these price reductions to our terminal customers. Finally our safety regulation fees have been frozen since 2008 and we intend to continue this freeze in 2012," Mr Brennan said. 


This weak performance for 2011 was reflected across Europe with the latest data from EUROCONTROL indicating that 2011 ended around 3.3% above 2010. The forecast for 2012 is for growth of only 1.6% despite the leap year effect as well as major sporting events.  

IATA too is predicting a difficult year for aviation in 2012 with weak global economic performance being reflected in air transport markets. European airlines continue to face the weakest market outlook due to the uncertainty in the Euro-zone and it predicts European airlines will make a $600 million loss in 2012, a $900 million downward revision from the September forecast, explained by the Euro-zone crisis and further increases in passenger taxes.

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