EU flights recovered this summer but still lag pre-COVID levels

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The summer has seen a sharp increase in commercial flights across the European Union but they remain lower than before the pandemic, new figures show.

The number of commercial flights in the 27-country bloc increased by 72.8% in July, year-on-year, and 47.6% in August, according to data released on Tuesday by Eurostat.

However, these figures remained about a third below what they were before COVID-19 emerged with 479,000 flights taking off last month, compared to 696,000 in August 2019.

Furthermore, the number of flights seen over the previous two months — the high season for travel across Europe — was below those recorded in January and February 2020 before the number of commercial flights across the Old Continent started their precipitous fall as member states implemented lockdowns and closed their borders to curb the spread of COVID-19.

To boost the tourism sector, EU countries launched a COVID passport in early July, allowing people who had either been fully vaccinated, had tested negative pre-travel or had recently recovered from the disease, to jet off to other member states.

Summer tourism hotspot Greece recovered the most this season with the number of commercial flights down just 7% in August compared to the same month in 2019. Romania and Croatia followed commercial flights down 18% and 21.5% compared to two years ago.

Commercial flights continue to into major headwinds in Slovenia, Ireland and Finland where they remain 53.5%, 54.5% and 60% below where they were pre-pandemic.


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