DFS, the German air navigation service provider, registered another increase in traffic volumes in June 2021. Nevertheless, the volumes in the first half of the year only reached a third of the 2019 levels.
There has been a little more movement in the skies following many months of restricted mobility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Air traffic volumes in Europe are on the rise, showing a clear upward trend since March, the fourth month in a row.
In June, 129,073 flights under instrument flight rules were registered in German airspace. This is almost 30,000 more take-offs, landings and overflights than in May, but still 57.6 percent fewer than in June 2019, before the pandemic began. With 5,300 flights in German airspace and 21,075 flights in Europe, Friday 25 June was the busiest day since March 2020. During the pandemic, traffic volumes had been down up to 90 percent.
This upward trend is also evident at German airports. Germany's designated international airports saw 72,845 take-offs and landings in June, around 61 percent below the 2019 level. Among the major aviation hubs, Frankfurt Airport is recovering fastest from the crisis. With 19,993 take-offs and landings in June, it was 56 percent below the pre-crisis month. Leipzig Airport, with its high share of air freight, continues to be the least affected by the decline. It recorded 6,138 take-offs and landings, only 4.1 percent fewer than in June 2019.
"The slump is over. After many months of extreme circumstances, we are slowly edging back to normality," said DFS CEO Arndt Schoenemann. "This is good news for our company, our industry and all people who love to travel."
In the first six months of 2021, DFS recorded 531,217 aircraft movements in German airspace; this is 67 percent fewer than in the first half of 2019. By the end of the year, DFS expects an increase to 75 percent of the pre-COVID traffic volumes. With 2021 starting at a fraction of the 2019 levels, cumulative traffic for the full year is expected to come in below 60 percent. Current forecasts assume that traffic will not fully recover until 2025.
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DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, the German air navigation service provider, is a State-owned company under private law with 5,600 employees as at 31 December 2020. DFS ensures the safe and punctual flow of air traffic over Germany. Before 2020, around 2,200 air traffic controllers guided up to 10,000 flights in German airspace every day, more than 3 million movements every year. The company operates control centres in Langen, Bremen, Karlsruhe and Munich as well as control towers at the 15 designated international airports in Germany. The subsidiary DFS Aviation Services GmbH markets and sells products and services related to air navigation services, and provides air traffic control at nine regional airports in Germany and at London Gatwick Airport and Edinburgh Airport in the UK. R. Eisenschmidt GmbH is another DFS subsidiary which markets publications and products for General Aviation. Kaufbeuren ATM Training (KAT) is responsible for training military air traffic services personnel. DFS has been working on the integration of drones into air traffic since 2016 and has set up a joint venture, Droniq GmbH, with Deutsche Telekom.