Air traffic in Portugal during the past year dropped to 1998 levels, with a total of 345,300 flights, 58% less, after the maximum of 816,000 flights in 2019, NAV Portugal revealed today.
"NAV Portugal managed 345,300 flights in 2020, a year negatively marked by the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic that were felt particularly strongly in civil aviation", revealed the airspace manager today, according to the provisional data of 2020 , indicating that that figure represents “the worst record since 1998”, when 357 thousand flights were managed.
In year-on-year terms, the value recorded in 2020 represents a 58% drop in air traffic, in line with that observed throughout the network of the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol), whose traffic fell 55% over the past year. .
According to NAV, since 1998, the total number of movements “remained in constant growth until the maximum registered in 2019” of 816 thousand flights.
“It was a situation that caught everyone off guard. No one ever thought it possible for aviation to come to near complete immobility. Adapting the operation to the conditions of the pandemic and, at the same time, to the urgent demands of transporting medical supplies, emergency flights and hundreds of repatriation flights to various European countries, was one of the biggest challenges that NAV has ever faced ”, he considered, in a statement, the president of NAV, Manuel Teixeira Rolo.
"Although even the most pessimistic forecasts have been decimated by the evolution of the pandemic scenario, with greater falls over the year than initially forecast, we estimate that this year will be of some stability", added the official.
NAV data, which is now 22 years old, indicates that the effects of the pandemic on air traffic were immediate, with flights falling to -94% in April, -92% in May and -88% in June, comparatively the same months of 2019.
Over the summer, there was a slight improvement, reaching levels equivalent to -55% in relation to the same period of 2019, "but the last months of the year were marked by a new deterioration, a trend that continues in these first days of 2021" , explained the company.
"Eurocontrol estimates that total traffic in 2021 will remain well below pre-pandemic figures, although it is expected that next summer will bring about a faster recovery of total flights," recalled NAV.
That organization also predicts that the return to values close to the total flights registered in 2019 should only occur in 2024.
In this sense, NAV said it was giving priority to "preparing for the future", envisaging the entry into operation of a new traffic management system and the opening of a new operating room.