Traffic-heavy regions in Europe are seeing record numbers of flights, as millions of people travel to Europe to spend the festive season.
Key points:The number of international flights has been rising for the past two years, and more than a million have been landed on Europe’s airportsThis is not a new phenomenon and it will continue for the foreseeable future, aviation experts warnPassengers flying from the United States to Europe will be on a waiting list for up to a yearPassengers who want to stay at home but do not have the right paperwork will be able to book their tickets at a European airport.
“This is a very significant issue in terms of the potential impact it has on the air travel industry, especially as we know that there will be very high volumes of flights and particularly those that originate in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates,” said Professor Philip DeMarco, director of the European Institute at King’s College London.
“We have to have a very clear understanding of the impact on the economy of what we are going to see as a result of the increased volumes of international travel.”
The number and size of international arrivals has increased significantly over the past year and is expected to continue to rise, with a record number of arrivals last week.
“It is absolutely the most significant increase in the past 12 months,” said Mr DeMarco.
“It is an indication of the economic situation that is happening and that is going to impact on our economy in the long-term.”
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says that the number of passengers arriving at European airports has been increasing by a record 1.1 per cent each month over the last year.
“There are no longer any significant issues with safety for people who fly into Europe,” said EASA spokesman Robert Van Rensburg.
“All European airports are fully staffed and the aviation authorities continue to work closely with the airline industry to manage risk, with the aim of reducing the number and severity of crashes and injuries.”
The United States, Japan, Australia and China are the only other countries in the world where passenger arrivals have been increasing faster than the population of Europe.
“I think the trend is a little bit surprising in terms the overall numbers but it is not surprising that we have seen a lot of activity over the course of the year,” Mr DeLucas said.
“The number [of international arrivals] is still growing but it’s not quite as much as we’ve seen in recent years.”
“The numbers have continued to increase, we haven’t seen the same number of crashes but we have had quite a few accidents and there have been a lot more fatalities.”EASa says the increase in international arrivals is a result not only of increased passenger numbers but also of increased demand from the Middle East and Asia.
“Europeans have been seeing a lot increase in demand for holiday and business travel over the years,” Mr Van Rening said.
“In particular the Middle Eastern and Asia markets, which are the destinations of most of the foreign tourists that come to Europe.”
The increase in arrivals is the result of a number of factors, including the financial crisis, increased demand for tourism and more people travelling on short-haul flights.
“European countries have been dealing with the financial consequences of the crisis in terms that they are facing a very tough financial situation, and there is a huge amount of pressure on the airports to manage the flow of people,” Mr Deluca said.
European airlines have also been hit by the economic downturn.
“Since the end of 2008 there has been an extraordinary economic downturn, particularly for international airlines,” Mr van Rensburger said.
However, he said airlines were working hard to improve their safety records and said there were some positive developments in the industry.
“As the economic recovery has come to a close and airlines have become more resilient and they are more confident about their ability to handle increased volumes, we have continued the trend of increasing numbers of passengers and the number that are being accommodated by airports,” he said.