On the eve of the first lockdown, the air transport sector was coming off a decade of continuous growth. Then COVID-19 hit, and aviation entered a freefall. In the first three months after lockdown (April – June 2020), passenger volumes plummeted by 91%, 90% and 84%, respectively, when compared to the same period the year before—the biggest drop in the sector’s history.
Lockdown had catastrophic impacts on companies and employment in the industry, with estimates pointing to losses of 70 billion euros for airlines and 30.9 billion euros for airports, in 2020 alone. Because the air transport sector in Europe directly employs more than 500,000, pain felt in the industry sends shockwaves rippling throughout the rest of the economy.