Page 4 - World ATM Directory & ANSP Report 2023
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 INTRODUCTION 2022: AVIATION’S RECOVERY TAKES HOLD AFTER TWO YEARS OF EXTREME VOLATILITY, AVIATION EDGED TOWARDS BUSINESS-AS-USUAL IN 2022. It was a slow start to the year, however, as fears of a returning pandemic merged with a post-holiday period slump. There were 2.77 million flights operated globally in January 2022, 83.4% of January 2020 figures – which was the last month of near-normal traffic before COVID-19 hit. But by February 2022, traffic was almost on par with pre- pandemic levels as it became clear that the Omicron strain of the virus was manageable with minimum intervention. Indeed, in April 2022, the number of global flights reached 98% of April 2019 operations. This was exactly two years on from aviation’s worst-ever month when nearly every passenger aircraft in the world was grounded. The 3.13 million flights in April 2022 disguised a shift in the make- up of the figure, however, as global flight hours were down 19% compared with the same month three years prior. This suggests an increase in short haul flights as European and US carriers sought to make up for the difficulties in serving Asia Pacific destinations, and passengers looked for safe trips, closer to home. Indeed, smaller aircraft and general and business aviation traffic was up markedly while utilization of Airbus A380s remained a fraction of pre-pandemic levels. Fast forward to July 2022 – peak season for the northern hemisphere – and the 3.9 million flights that month equate to a 11.6% increase over July 2019. Aviation, it seemed, had well and truly recovered. Again, though, this doesn’t tell the whole story. Major hubs, including London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol, struggled to cope with the phenomenal surge in air service demand. Heathrow, for example, introduced a cap of 100,000 passengers per day on 12 July 2022 forcing the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights. This also caused problems for air navigation service providers (ANSPs) across Europe as they sought to manage disruption and optimise airspace efficiency, often at short notice. Not surprisingly, therefore, August saw a slight softening in demand. Daily average flight volumes fell from 125,700 flights and 227,400 flight hours in July 2022, to 121,400 flights and 224,800 flight hours just one month later. Nevertheless, it was the fourth consecutive month of figures exceeding 2019 levels, despite Asia Pacific lagging. In fact, the average number of daily movements in Asia Pacific was 26% down in August 2022 compared with January 2020. Europe, in contrast, was 46% up. September and October saw an expected dip as seasonality hit critical northern hemisphere markets. October global flights were still 3.0% above 2019 levels, but global flight hours were 5.0% down, again hinting at greater short-haul connectivity at the expense of long- haul service to Asia Pacific. Other factors started to come into play, however, as inflationary pressures soared in many countries, affecting discretionary travel. Despite the headwinds, there was a solid performance in November 2022, with the 3.26 million global flights down just 0.4% on pre-pandemic numbers. Flight hours operated continued to lag confirming that underneath the high-level global numbers there has been significant changes in traffic patterns and fleet mix. As the industry heads into 2023 that will require adjustment by all stakeholders in the aviation system. Regionally, the one anomaly to recovery patterns in 2022 was Asia Pacific and, in particular, China. The country’s pursuit of a zero COVID policy that was only abandoned at the end of the year affected traffic in the entire region – and beyond. Other key markets, such as Australia and New Zealand, were also slow in opening compared with many other countries. Australia welcomed the world in February 2022, but it took until end July for New Zealand to follow suit. Given these countries’ links with other western nations and China’s global connections, international traffic    Flight Movements, Rolling Average 120 100 80 60 40 20 Ja n Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Movements (2021) Nov Dec Movements (2020)   Duizenden       4 WORLD ATM DIRECTORY & ANSP REPORT 2023 

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