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EUROCONTROL predicts 3.4% growth in air traffic

The number of flights in Europe is expected to grow by around 3.4% per year between 2004 and 2010…

The number of flights in Europe is expected to grow by around 3.4% per year between 2004 and 2010, with low-cost carriers taking around 24% of the market by 2010, according to a forecast released by EUROCONTROL, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation.

The medium-term forecast predicts that the largest growth in the air transport market will be in Eastern European and Mediterranean States, with an average of 4.5% in the EU Accession countries, and a lower 3.4% in the current EU Member States. Turkey is expected to see 5.9% growth on average, and the Ukraine 7% growth.

Traffic now is back to around 2000 levels. Overall we have lost about three years of growth – resulting in 10.5 million flights in 2010 rather than in 2007, said David Marsh, head of STATFOR, EUROCONTROL`s statistics and forecast service. We expect expansion in the sector to be based on return to economic growth and the growth in low-cost carriers. For some of our MemberStates, short term factors such as the 2004 Olympics and Euro04 Football Championship will be important.

The forecast finds that low-cost carriers will play an increasing role, taking up to 24% of the market by 2010. The rate of growth in this sector is predicted to be 20% more flights each year over the next 7 years. By 2010, if they are still identifiable as a separate category, low-cost carriers are expected to add market share at around 1% each year. While the UK and Ireland are still the largest low-cost markets overall, the focus of low-cost growth is moving east and south, with the low-cost market in Turkey, Greece, Italy and Slovakia more than doubling in the past year.

Low cost carriers will play an important role in the sector over the coming 7 years. We see them as a driving force, primarily in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean countries, where current market penetration for low-costs leaves plenty of room for growth, David Marsh added.

Theodore Koumelis
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