Air traffic is skyrocketing this summer, will passenger demand be maintained after the European vacation?
The question was the focus of the International Airports Council International (ACI) Europe's annual meeting in Rome this week, at the pinnacle of the looming peak season.
Since 2020, the summer period has been by far the best since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, which has had a profound impact on the aviation industry.
Some airlines such as Ryanair, and countries in particular Greece, have already recovered their daily flights in 2019, according to Eurocontrol, an air transport system across Europe. Or better than that.
Across the continent, air traffic was 86% last week during the same period in 2019, with the most optimistic estimates expected to reach up to 95% in August.
And despite soaring ticket prices, long lines at various airports from Frankfurt to Dublin to Amsterdam, and strikes by flight attendants, pilots, or air traffic controllers, companies are in the coming weeks. The seats are filled with.
But after that?
"Because of the high uncertainty, visibility is low," said Olivier Jankovec, Secretary of ACI Europe.
"We are now in a wartime regime in Europe, with a very severe recession outlook, record levels of inflation, and how all of this affects consumer sentiment. ... the jury hasn't come out yet. "
Henrik Hololei, Secretary of Transport and Transportation of the European Commission, reiterated that idea.
"There is a lot of eddy, so you need to fasten your seat belts," he told the delegation.
"We are entering an uncertain time that we haven't experienced in the last decade. Of course, it's our biggest enemy of business," he said.
Too many unclear points
Hololei cited the war in Ukraine, rising energy prices, and a shortage of energy, food and labor.
"Also, interest rates are rising for the first time in 10 years," he said.
Jet fuel prices have doubled over the past year, and refinery capacity shortages have exacerbated the surge in crude oil prices.
Fuel accounts for about a quarter of the airline's operating costs and attempts to replenish the safes that have been depleted by the two-year health crisis, so airlines give consumers at ticket prices. Passing on fuel.
Still, strong demand has returned, confirmed Eleni Karoiiro, managing director of Hermes Airport, which manages Larnaca and Paphos airports in Cyprus.
"People want to take a vacation," she said, admitting that she was "worried next year."
Yiannis Paraschis, general manager of Athens International Airport, also expressed concern that "increased energy costs and inflation will consume most of the disposable income of European households."
Kadori Samsunlu, head of Istanbul International Airport, has expressed concern about the impact of inflation in Western Europe.
And he warned, "I don't know what will happen to demand," if consumer confidence is compromised.
The last unknown hanging on Europe's air travel in the medium term is the possibility of a new outbreak of the coronavirus.
"COVID hasn't disappeared, it's not seasonal flu," Holorei warned.