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EU travel restrictions put 48,200 flights and 10.2 million seats in jeopardy

EU travel restrictions put 48,200 flights and 10.2 million seats in jeopardy

Travel industry experts have revealed the potential impact of Tuesday evening’s decision by EU member states to adopt EU guidelines on the closure of EU borders for 30 days, for all but essential travel into the bloc. Up to 48,200 flights and 10.2 million seats are in jeopardy.

At present, it is not clear exactly what proportion of the 48,200 flights between the EU and so-called ‘third countries’ will be cancelled, because the EU guidelines clearly contemplate that a skeleton service needs to be maintained for essential travel and it is up to each member state to decide on the extent of implementation in their own territory. However, it is inevitable that this guidance will have an extremely substantial negative impact on connectivity.

The airline that could suffer the worst from the new EU restrictions is Air France, which has around 800,000 seats between the EU and other world regions. Next, in order, come Lufthansa, Emirates, KLM, Wizz Air, Qatar Airways, Ryanair, Turkish Airlines, Delta and Aeroflot.

In terms of countries, the EU nations which stand to lose the most flights are the largest. France stands to be the most substantially affected, potentially losing over two million seats. It is followed, in order, by Germany, which stands to lose just under two million, and then the Netherlands and Spain, each with around one million seats in service to third countries, prior to the EU’s proposed restrictions.

For the purposes of the EU’s guidance, the UK is not considered to be a ‘third country’ so the number of seats in jeopardy for this analysis does not include air traffic between the UK and EU countries. However, with Ryanair’s announcement yesterday that it expects to stop “most if not all” flights by 24th March and to cut 80% of its schedules before then, the impact on European air travel will likely be substantially greater than the 48,200 flights put at risk by the EU’s guidance.

Air capacity to and from China has fallen to a fifth of what it was before the coronavirus outbreak. With the imposition of a ban on travel to the USA from Schengen countries on Friday 13th and from the UK and Ireland on Monday 16th, almost nobody can go to the USA from Europe. Now, with the latest restrictions on travel, this time proposed by the EU, the industry is looking at a totemic moment in the reduction of air travel and connectivity between different regions of the world.