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Summer is here: How will it impact our traffic forecast?

Summer has started, passengers are getting ready to take their holidays and the question is – are we prepared? 

Looking ahead at the forecast within the FAB CE region for the next few months, the good news is a recovery from the challenged days for air travel during the pandemic. In addition to the recovery of the level of traffic there are also external influences impacting an increase in en-route and overflights in our region – traffic that must be handled due to the situation in Ukraine, an increase in low-cost carriers providing flights to Balkan destinations, and sport events. We are early in the summer months but have already had severe weather impacts that have resulted in delays, cancellations and rebooking of travel plans. Although severe weather can always occur, it appears that there is trend for a higher level in 2024.

Overall, the projection is an increase of 10% vs last year’s traffic level for FAB CE. Although it is possible to plan air traffic control capacity for this growth, we aren’t able to plan for severe weather.Let’s take a look at some of the statistics provided by EUROCONTROL and the potential to impact different ANSPs within our FAB.

In late May/early June (27 May – 2 June) the majority of delays occurred in Croatia and Hungary, with the main reason for this delay (79%) coming from weather. The second reason for delay impacts was capacity and staffing.

Looking ahead for the remainder of the summer the projections of traffic to be handled continue to increase. If we look at traffic level predictions from week 25 through week 32, there is an average increase between 8-10% over 2023 actual traffic results. Going a level deeper into the projections by ANSP – Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina are the top three regions for increased traffic projections with the peak travel days running at around 25% higher than last summer. Given the holiday destinations in these regions it isn’t surprising they would have the highest impacts. The regions most consistent with last year’s traffic levels are Hungary and the Czech Republic. 

The results of the last few weeks once again reinforce the importance of flexibility and predictability in staffing our ATCO teams. Hopefully there are some actionable take-aways from the recent workshop in Zagreb to help everyone manage the next few months to come.