In 2007, the number of flights in Europe surged to 10 million, an all-time high and an increase of 5.3% on 2006. Average daily traffic in Europe in 2007 was 27,676 flights a day compared to 26,286 in 2006. Traffic growth was strongest in Eastern Europe, with several states seeing growth near 20%. Growth in Finland and Sweden and in Azores and Canary Islands was lower than the European average. Growth was driven mainly by low cost carriers, which saw an increase of 25% on the year as a whole and business aviation with 10%, between them accounting for nearly all the net new flights.
In 2007, on average 11% of flights were delayed. This is up from just under 10% of flights which were delayed in 2006. 56% of all delays were attributed to airlines, with 16% coming from airports, 12% from en-route and 9% from weather. Air traffic flow management delays which are caused by air traffic control capacity, staffing, weather, and aerodrome capacity increased from an average of 1.9 minutes per flight in 2006 to 2.1 minutes per flight in 2007.
The number of flights in 2008 is predicted to grow by 4.2%. Air traffic flow management delays for summer 2008 will exceed 3 minutes per flight, up from 2.6 minutes in summer 2007. Traffic growth is expected to be strongest in countries along the Adriatic Coast and in Poland and the three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). For the first time 20% of all flights are expected to be from low-cost carriers. Reflecting on the figures, David McMillan, Director General of EUROCONTROL said: Europe saw more than 10 million flights in 2007 a new record. Handling this volume of traffic safely while containing delays and maintaining Europes excellent safety record is a major achievement. But the growth in air traffic will continue; and air traffic control is operating at capacity in some places, so there is a real risk of significant delays this summer, with disruption for airlines and their passengers. Through the Central Flow Management Units operations and the DMEAN programme, we in EUROCONTROL are doing all we can to manage the flows efficiently and to optimise the network. Above all, we will be working with our partners in air traffic control, in airports and airlines to get all the capacity we can out of the system and to have a robust network plan for 2008 and beyond.