Irish air travel almost half pre-pandemic levels

Latest Eurocontrol figures show overall pace of air travel’s recovery has stagnated

Total flights in or out of the State were 439 on Saturday, August 28th, according to Eurcontrol, the Europe-wide body of air traffic control agencies. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Total flights in or out of the State were 439 on Saturday, August 28th, according to Eurcontrol, the Europe-wide body of air traffic control agencies. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

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Irish air travel was around half pre-pandemic levels over the final weekend of what would normally be airlines’ three busiest months.

The news comes as the Government this week prepares to announce further easing of Covid restrictions that could signal a near return to normal life in the Republic by the end of September.

Total flights in or out of the State were 439 on Saturday, August 28th, according to Eurcontrol, the Europe-wide body of air traffic control agencies.

The total was 10 per cent ahead of the 393 recorded on July 19th, the day the Government began easing travel restrictions that were among Europe’s toughest.

The figure indicated that growth had slipped back from the 20 per cent increase recorded four weeks after the Government eased travel bans.

It also showed that the overall pace of air travel’s recovery had stagnated as it was 50 per cent behind the 868 flights recorded on Saturday, August 31st, 2019.

Eurocontrol reported that there were 498 flights in or out of the State four weeks after reopening began here, which was also 50 per cent below the comparable figure for 2019.

Irish air travel’s recovery is continuing to trail the rest of Europe, where flight numbers have recovered to around 70 per cent of comparable 2019 levels.

Eurocontrol’s figures show that there were 24,389 flights throughout the area it covers on Saturday, 29.4 per cent less than the 32,841 recorded on Saturday, August 31st, 2019.

The states covered by the air traffic body include the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Morocco, Israel, Ukraine, North Macedonia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Armenia.

Eurocontrol predicted earlier this year that European air travel could recover to 70 per cent of normal by the end of 2021.

International Air Transport Association figures released at the weekend showing airlines lost $6.9 billion (€5.85bn) after tax in the second quarter of this year, against $14.4 billion in the opening three months.

While the association acknowledged that losses were falling, it pointed out that new Covid restrictions in domestic markets that are recovering and ongoing international curbs continued to pose risks to carriers’ financial health.