All-time high and changing flows

In 2016, air traffic controllers guided 5.79 million flights (+ 3.2 percent compared to 2015) safely and punctually through FABEC airspace. This was an all-time high for traffic volume, topping the historical peak reached in 2007. Despite this overall trend, there were significant variations between control centres and individual sectors. The bandwidth of growth for FABEC ANSPs varied between 0.1 and 4.9 percent. Individual growth rates at the control sector level were significantly higher in some cases. In 2017, the trend is continuing. Some control sectors have reported increase rates of more than 10 percent for unforeseen traffic. 

With regard to the traffic trends at European airports, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle overtook London Heathrow Airport and became the busiest airports in Europe. Overall, the number of arrivals at FABEC airports grew by 2.0 percent in 2016.

The main cause of these developments is the overall positive trend on the aviation market, which continued for the fourth consecutive year. Especially the low-cost sector is growing again and has reached an above-average level. In addition, the legacy carriers and cargo segment are growing at an average rate overall, but with several significant variations in terms of airlines and destinations. A determining factor is the volatility of tourism due to the geopolitical situation. Terrorist attacks and political unrest in 2016 led to travel advisories for North African countries. This resulted in a shift in the popularity of holiday destinations. Consequently, the south-west axis towards Spain and Portugal has noted an unexpectedly strong increase.

Neither the significant traffic growth nor the volatility of traffic had been forecasted. The current static instruments of traffic forecasting are no longer reliable. Due to the volatility of the traffic, a new flexible approach is needed which takes into account the interdependencies stemming from the changes being experienced in the aviation market itself as well as from the impact of geopolitics.