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Europe’s long recovery for scheduled air traffic likely to create opportunities for charter aviation

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Many airlines are reducing or cancelling flight schedules on more ‘niche’ routes, particularly between smaller cities across Europe, often leaving charter aviation as the only means to fly direct between many cities.

Leading aircraft charter specialist, Air Charter Service, has suggested that longer recovery for Europe’s scheduled air traffic will lead to a surge in interest for charter aviation. The suggestion has come following air navigation safety organisation, Eurocontrol’s, recent forecast downgrade*, implying that Europe’s air traffic will likely not return to former 2019 levels until 2025 – previously forecasted to be by 2024.

Air Charter Service has reacted to this downgrade by predicting an upgrade in business for its commercial jet and private jet charter divisions. Justin Bowman, Chief Executive Officer of Air Charter Service, comments: “This substantial drop in capacity, along with potential short-term surges in demand, means that charter flights will be increasingly turned to in order to ‘fill the gaps’ left by reduction in scheduled service flights.

“Many airlines are reducing or cancelling flight schedules on more ‘niche’ routes, particularly between smaller cities across Europe, often leaving charter aviation as the only means to fly direct between many cities. Prior to the pandemic, a study by a European aviation organisation reported more than 25,000 routes were served by charter flights, but not served by a scheduled airline. We expect this number to have increased significantly over the past year and will remain higher until 2025. This reduction in connectivity will be felt especially when there are short term spikes in demand due to international sporting or business events driving travel.”

Looking at the Champions League final in Porto this year as an example, Air Charter Service has determined that the number of scheduled flights to Porto over the same time period has decreased by 28%**, when comparing to 2019. It believes that this was part of the reason behind the demand for nearly 20 charter flights that the company arranged to Porto last month, with more than 3,000 passengers, as people scrambled for seats that would have been more prevalent through scheduled services in previous years.


* www.eurocontrol.int/publication/eurocontrol-forecast-update-2021-2024
** Figures provided by WingX

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