“We are looking at a totemic moment”: ForwardKeys assesses impact of closure of EU borders

EUROPE. Up to 48,200 flights and 10.2 million seats are in jeopardy following the decision to close European Union (EU) borders for 30 days to all but essential travel into the bloc.

EU member states made the call on 17 March to adopt the guidelines.

Source: ForwardKeys. Click to enlarge.

Travel analyst ForwardKeys said Air France, which has around 800,000 seats between the EU and other world regions, might suffer the most from the restrictions among airlines. Next, in order, come Lufthansa, Emirates, KLM, Wizz Air, Qatar Airways, Ryanair, Turkish Airlines, Delta and Aeroflot.

Olivier Ponti: “We are looking at a totemic moment in the reduction of air travel and connectivity between different regions of the world”

In terms of countries, the EU nations which stand to lose the most flights are the largest, ForwardKeys said. France could lose more than two million seats and is followed, in order, by Germany (just under two million), the Netherlands and Spain (both around one million seats in service to third countries).

ForwardKeys VP Insights Olivier Ponti commented: “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.”

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 ForwardKeys’ analysis does not include air traffic between the UK and EU countries.

But the analyst noted that with Ryanair’s announcement that it expects to stop “most if not all” flights by 24 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”.

Ponti concluded: “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 13 March and from the UK and Ireland on 16 March, almost nobody can go to the USA from Europe.

“Now, with the latest restrictions on travel, this time proposed by the EU, we are looking at a totemic moment in the reduction of air travel and connectivity between different regions of the world.”

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