In a major setback for the UK, air travel has recorded a steep slump for the second year in row
Lockdowns and travel restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a sharp downturn in international flights to and from the UK, according to the latest data revealed by Cirium, an aviation analytics firm.
Its annual On-Time Performance Review 2021 disclosed that 406,060 flew into and out of the country from January to December versus, 1,399,170 recorded in the pre-pandemic period of 2019, marking an immense decline of 71%.
Despite the late reopening of the US borders, which occurred only on November 8, the route between London’s Heathrow and New York’s JFK was the largest in 2021. Five air carriers – British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and newcomer JetBlue – made over 2,410 flights on the route this year. US travelers have been able to fly to Britain since July 28.
The deeply disappointing figures also disclosed that UK domestic flights over the same period were down nearly 60% compared to 2019.
Irish low-coster Ryanair reportedly remained the largest carrier in the UK, with more than 100,000 UK flights recorded in 2021, easyJet followed closely behind, with more than 82,000 flights in total.
Meanwhile, flights operating within the Common Travel Area, which covers Ireland and UK overseas territories, “showed strong recovery this year since arrivals into the UK faced no testing or quarantine mandates,” Cirium reported.
Nine of the 10 busiest routes from the country departed from Heathrow and one from Gatwick. Heathrow saw the most flights, with more than 78,820 logged in 2021. Stansted was second, with 32,070 flights, followed by Manchester (29,690), Gatwick (25,960), and Luton (19,770).
Short-haul flights proved to be the most popular, with eight out of the 10 most popular routes being to Europe. London Heathrow to Amsterdam, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt came in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.
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