The impact of COVID-19 on aviation

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the global economy and, in particular, large parts of the aviation industry to an unprecedented extent. Especially with a view to air traffic, there is controversial discussion whether and, if so, to what extent, in addition to the immediate consequences of the crisis, structural changes are triggered and / or intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic that have a more than temporary impact on the air traffic markets and lead to a reduction in the growth path to be observed and usually updated in forecasts for the future. Interactions with other developments of relevance to the industry must also be taken into account, in particular the increasing relevance of climate protection for society and (transport) politics.

Against the background outlined, this short study aims to systematically discuss key determinants of the future development of aviation markets, taking into account the foreseeable influences of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. The aim is not to make air traffic forecasts or to calculate quantitative scenarios. Rather, the directions of action and possible dimensions of the identified trends should be described. Particular attention should be paid to the (aviation) transport policy “levers”, including tax regulations, climate policy instruments (including CORSIA) and decisions in the area of ​​infrastructure (airports, rail network). The analyses concentrate on the German market, taking into account general developments in Europe and worldwide.

Although traffic and environmental policy decisions are discussed in numerous places below, it is not the task of this brief study to derive recommendations for action. To this end, the first step would be to develop a target system on which the individual measures could then be assessed – a task that far exceeds the scope of this short study. However, in some places reasons are given as to why decision-makers have taken – or not taken – a certain measure. These statements only serve to clarify the motivation for action of the respective actors, without the aim being to evaluate the respective goals as such.

The work on this short study was completed on September 28, 2020. During the processing time, many new developments occurred, some of which seemed almost unimaginable before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The dynamics of events to date mean that it is highly likely that there will also be surprising changes in the markets in the short term and that political decisions will be modified that cannot be individually forecast. In this respect, this short study can only be a snapshot.

Prof. Dr. Frank Fichert
Medium and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on air traffic
Short study for the Bundesvereinigung gegen Fluglärm e.V.
In German. Original title and download: Mittel- und langfristige Auswirkungen der COVID-19-Pandemie auf den Luftverkehr