Luxembourgh Times

Drop in summer flight numbers at Findel amongst lowest in EU

Luxembourg was one of the countries which saw the lowest decrease across the bloc in flights this summer compared with August 2019

Aircraft taking off from Findel airport in Luxembourg

Aircraft taking off from Findel airport in Luxembourg © Photo credit: Chris Karaba

Deputy editor-in-chief  

Luxembourg's airport saw one of the lowest drops across the EU in the number of commercial flights operating last month compared to the summer before the pandemic, according to data released on Tuesday by the European Union’s official statistics agency Eurostat. The number of landings and take-offs at Findel airport fell by 24% last month when compared with August 2019, but this was a much smaller decline than in other EU countries. Only three other member states registered a lower drop - Greece at 7%, Romania at 18% and Croatia at 22%. In stark contrast, flights decreased by 60% in Finland over the two year period, 55% in Ireland and 54% in Slovenia. The figures reflect a positive recovery of sorts at Luxembourg's only airport, after the Covid-19 crisis destroyed years of record breaking growth in passenger numbers at the airport, with 2020 seeing the lowest number of travellers passing through since 2003. The country's national airline, Luxair, last year carried less than a third of the passengers that flew in 2019.

Since the start of the pandemic 18 months ago, countries across the world have put travel restrictions in place, which has hit airlines hard as jets were grounded for months and some airlines did not immediately fill each seat once planes were able to take off again.

Prior to the outbreak of the crisis, airlines had to use 80% of their reserved time slots at airports or lose them to competitors, but this requirement – a European Commission rule – was waived in March last year when the pandemic hit Europe.

From late October, airlines will once again be forced to use their slots. This time, any airline cancelling more than half of a specific airport slot time will risk losing that place permanently.

Airlines often have to cancel a flight because of a lack of customer demand and the global airline trade association, IATA, fears some airlines could fly without any passengers solely to meet slot quotas.

Last month, the number of passenger flights in the EU increased by 48% compared to August 2020, going up from 325,000 last year to 479,000 this year. But this still remains well below the 696,000 flights in the bloc in August 2019, before the pandemic, Eurostat figures show.

Commercial passenger flights across the EU were down by 31% overall last month compared with August 2019.