Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 14 July 2020

A gradual recovery: the skies are coming back to life as air travel restrictions ease

The number of commercial flights hit a low of 23,000 during April, according to Flightradar24

Air traffic has been obliterated in recent months, as countries placed restrictions on movement amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But the skies are slowly coming back to life, as shown by new data from flight tracker Flightradar24.

The level of traffic is still substantially below that of this time last year – 48 per cent lower than on June 1, 2019, according to Flightradar24 (see tweet below). However, the number of flights is gradually growing as lockdowns are eased around the world.

The most significant differences in volume of flights can be seen over the Atlantic Ocean, between the US and Europe, plus the east coast of South America.

Traffic has also clearly dwindled over India and the Middle East – including the UAE, where all flights were grounded on March 1 and are slowly being reintroduced.

February to June: a different world

Further statistics from FlightRadar has shown how far the level of air traffic dropped off – and how it is gradually returning.

On February 28, 109,732 commercial flights were tracked across the globe – the highest level during the period February 3 to June 1. This included passenger, cargo, charter and some business jet flights.

By April 12, the number of commercial flights had plummeted to only 23,962. Towards the end of April, this number was beginning to rise, and was at more than 34,000 by May 8, 38,000 by May 20 and above 40,000 on May 29.

Daily flights tracked by Flightradar24. 
Daily flights tracked by Flightradar24.

What's the flight situation in the UAE?

Emirates started resuming regular passenger flights to eight countries on Thursday, May 21, just before the Eid Al Fitr holiday. They were the first regular, non-repatriation flights out of Dubai since March 24.

The airline is currently flying from Dubai to London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, Madrid, Chicago and Toronto, with a schedule in place until Tuesday, June 30. There are also flights to Sydney and Melbourne.

The airline has opened bookings for flights to 12 Arab countries, with the routes from Dubai resuming from July.

Etihad Airways is operating inbound flights from 16 destinations to Abu Dhabi, with services operating until Monday, June 15. The national airline for the UAE is also operating additional special passenger flights from Abu Dhabi to 17 destinations.

Passengers are currently required to apply for approval to return to the UAE.

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