Aviation industry in Germany and Europe

Authors: Prof. Dr. Richard Klophaus and Marc Getto

Competence Center Aviation Management (CCAM), Worms University of Applied Sciences, Erenburgerstr. 19, 67549 Worms, Germany

We provide a brief overview of the current situation in the aviation industry in Germany and Europe in terms of passenger and air cargo traffic as well as with regard to the most important airports and airlines.  Starting with the year 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has determined the development of the industry. For this reason, the following article largely refers to the more representative situation before COVID-19.

Passenger and air cargo traffic in the EU+

Europe has seen regional differences in air traffic growth between 2016 and 2019. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, passenger air traffic in the EU+, which includes the remaining 27 Member States of the European Union (EU) after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU (“Brexit”) and the associated countries United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, had increased significantly. The average growth in passenger traffic in the EU+ between 2016 and 2019 was 17 percent. Eastern Europe recorded the largest traffic growth with over 40 percent during this period. In comparison, passenger traffic grew relatively moderate in Germany with 11 percent.

Almost 1 billion air passengers were transported in 2018 at EU level. Germany was the EU Member State with the highest number of passengers (222 millions), followed by Spain and France. Extra-EU flights accounted for 50% of all passengers, while national transport and intra-EU passenger transport accounted for 16 % and 34 %, respectively. Spain was the leader in domestic air transport with 40 million passengers, followed by Italy and France with around 30 million domestic passengers each. Most international intra-EU passengers were carried from or to Germany (120 million passengers), followed by Spain (100 millions) and Italy (70 millions). The highest number of international extra-EU-27 passengers was recorded in Germany as well (90 millions), followed by Spain (80 millions) and France (70 millions).

Total air cargo traffic in the EU+ increased by around 6% between 2016 and 2019. Air cargo volumes showed strong variations across EU+ countries from -31% in Sweden to +40% in Portugal. In comparison to passenger traffic, air cargo traffic is concentrated at a limited number of European airports. Germany experienced moderate air cargo growth (+5%). In absolute terms, however, Germany witnessed the highest growth after Belgium and Spain. In 2018, more than 14 million tons of freight and mail were transported by air in the EU. Germany dealt with 4.8 million tons, representing 34 % of the total EU air freight and mail, followed by France and the Netherlands. Some of the smaller EU Member States are relatively specialized in air cargo, notably all of the Benelux countries, in particular Luxembourg.

Top ten airport pairs within the EU in 2018 (see Figure 1)

The top airport pairs within the EU measured by passenger numbers in 2018 were Madrid Barajas - Barcelona El Prat (2.468 million passengers), Frankfurt Main - Berlin Tegel (2.291 million passengers) and Paris Orly - Toulouse Blagnac (2.282 million passengers). The busiest routes are mainly domestic routes. There are also a few international routes among the top airport pairs, but these tend to connect cities and regions that are close together. A comparison with the total of almost 1 billion air passengers transported within, to and from the European Union shows that European passenger traffic is highly diversified across routes.

Figure 1: Top ten airport pairs within the EU-28 in 2018 (Source: Eurostat 2020)

Within the EU, Paris Charles de Gaulle was the busiest airport with 72 million arriving and departing passengers in 2018. Amsterdam Schiphol and Frankfurt Main airports are the next largest with 71 million and 69 million arriving and departing passengers, respectively. The overwhelming majority of passengers traveling through these three airports were on international flights. In contrast, national flights accounted for 28 percent of the 56 million passengers in Madrid, EU’s fourth busiest passenger airport, a large share of which were flying on the domestic route to and from Barcelona El Prat, Spanish second largest airport and Europe’s fifth largest. Munich, Germany's second busiest airport, ranks as the sixth busiest EU airport.

Short-term outlook for the European aviation industry

The European aviation market has suffered more from the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the markets in the US and China. The main reason is Europe’s dependence on international air travel, which recovered much slower than large domestic air travel in large markets like the US and China. However, clear progress has been made since summer 2021 with the introduction of EU digital COVID-19 certificates to facilitate international travel, as well as the rollout of vaccination programs which have contributed to the recovery of the European aviation industry.

According to the October 2021 forecast of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), European airlines will benefit from the two fastest recovering international passenger markets in 2022. Revenue passenger kilometers are predicted to be at 75 percent of 2019 for intra-EU-traffic and 65 percent for North Atlantic traffic. This is good news for Europe’s leading low-cost-carriers (Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz Air) while the North Atlantic reopening is positive for Europe’s largest airline groups International Airlines Group (IAG) which owns British Airways and Iberia, Lufthansa Group and Air France-KLM.


Call for Papers

Journal of Aviation Science & Technology

Journal of Aviation Science and Technology (JAST) is an open access, peer reviewed international academic journal published by Vietnam Aviation Academy (VAA), Vietnam in 2021. VAA provides a premium publication outlet for scholars, industry stakeholders, government entities and students. The editorial focus is on current issues of the aviation, aeronautics, aerospace and technological development segments. Submitted articles are relevant to various topics including the business, strategy, education, policy, regulation, law, safety, logistics and air cargo, air traffic control, airline and airport operations, intermodal transport, science and technology in the aviation industry.

JAST publishes two following types of articles:

  • A Full Original Research: presenting new research results from original research guaranteeing scientific quality, or proposing new conceptual framework, case studies, empirical research, technical notes, analytical and simulation models, methodologies, and solutions.
  • A Brief Communication: published results are not sufficient to constitute a complete article and some details may not be published until the authors write a full original research manuscript.

JAST uses a peer-reviewed, double-blind process to evaluate academic articles by international expetise reviewers from different organizations in order to maintain consistent quality.

JAST invites papers for Vol. 3 No. 1 which is scheduled to be published on June 1st, 2024. The last date of submission: May 1st, 2024. However, earlier submissions are appreciated and will be afforded preference in terms of review and publication.

The journal is published in English both in print and online. JAST anticipates the assignment of a DOI number for publication in 2024.

Please submit your manuscript on JAST's website https://www.vaajast.org

For further information concerning author guidelines, please visit the official website of the journal www.vaajast.org or email the Managing Editor at editor.jast@vaa.edu.vn

Sincerely yours,

Assoc. Professor Dr. Tran Hoai An


Journal of Aviation Science & Technology