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Aviation patterns changing across Europe

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A new forecast issued by EUROCONTROL highlights the need for policy-makers to plan for substantial increases in the numbers of flights across Europe as well as changes to the pattern of these flights over the coming 7 years.

The medium-term forecast looks at growth across Europe over the next 7 years. It concludes that there will be over 11.4 million flights per year in Europe by 2012, 26% more than 2005. On average, this represents a growth of 3.3% each year. However the study finds that growth will not be uniform across the region, with some countries such as Romania, Ukraine and Armenia predicted to see growth of over 50% in the 7 year period, while others, such as Switzerland or Norway have growth predictions around 20%.

The study also finds that growth in traffic will have a varying impact on airports across the continent. Madrid Barajas airport is set to become the third busiest airport in Europe by the end of 2012, overtaking London’s Heathrow and Amsterdam’s Schiphol airports in terms of IFR flights. Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt Main remain first and second. Istanbul Ataturk airport is also scheduled to grow rapidly over the coming years. The combination of this growth and the continuing strength of growth trends in Turkey, in particular the growth of tourism, mean that around 2010, Istanbul will join the limited number of airports where capacity is restricting growth. After the opening of the new runway in Frankfurt in 2009-2010, the most constrained airports will be London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Istanbul.

The development of high-speed trains is also predicted to have an impact on air traffic, reducing growth by about 80,000 flights or 1% in total over the 7 year period of the forecast. Spain and Italy will see the largest reductions in numbers of flights due to high speed trains – 4% and 2% respectively with France likely to have a reduction of 1%. In Spain, the impact and reduction in flights will mainly be felt on the domestic Madrid-Barcelona route. Today this route is the busiest city pair in terms of air traffic with an average of 127 flights between the two cities each day.
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