“At first sight it looked almost like a full recovery – but when you examine the figures more closely you can start to see that there are very different patterns of traffic now driving the market.” Matej Eljon, FAB CE Programme Manager and Director of FAB CE Aviation Ltd was one of the expert panellists at the World ATM Congress in Madrid in late October, on an Inter-FAB panel discussing experiences of market fluctuations at an ATC centre level.
Representatives of FAB CE, ENAV, PANSA, DFS and ATCA took part in the dicussions, which seeked to understand whether the pre-COVID drivers of traffic demand were still as relevant in 2021 as they were in 2019. Panellists at the event concluded that we are entering an era of unprecented volatility in demand not solely caused by the pandemic. Factors such as more exteme weather, cyber threats, demand for more airspace by military aircraft operators and a rise in political and economic volatility in neighbouring States all meant that accurate traffic-load predictions on the ATM system were far more problematic than before.
“Among FAB CE States demand for summer season resort travel meant traffic levels in Croatia and Slovenia almost returned to 2019 levels,” said Matej Eljon. “But restrictions in Belarus and even the Middle East affected air travel over Slovakia.” The predicted fall in demand for flights in October 2021 had not taken place because air travel had started to replace bus travel on many key routes, he told delegates.
“This new era of volatility has underlined the need to cooperate further – to share the risks and the capacity when and where required,” he said.