The restrictions on air passenger traffic around the world, caused by the expansion of the pandemic of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) have transformed airports into huge aircraft parking lots, causing countless losses for airlines. The situation is expected to worsen in the coming weeks with the closure of airspace in several countries.
A thermometer that shows how passenger transport has been affected by the disease is the FlightRadar24 website, which tracks aircraft equipped with ADS-B, a equipment that continuously emits the position of a flight. On its blog, the online tool revealed that in March the drop in the number of flights is already 10% compared to the same period in 2019.
A graph made available by the website, however, shows the drop in the last few days has been steep, as the restrictions imposed on airlines grow, such as the ban on flights from Europe entering the U.S., decreed by President Donald Trump.
“In the second week of March, governments around the world began implementing restrictions on travel that have led to a further — and continuing — decrease in the number of flights operated globally. This trend has increased sharply this week“, said Ian Petchenikm, FlightRadar24´s director of communications.
Another graph, which compares the average flights since the service started in 2016, points to a brief resumption this year, when China started to control the spread of the virus and allowed airlines to fly again.
Initially discarded, the air blockade started to be adopted in countless nations as a way to reduce the contamination of the population. Several countries have started to ban flights from abroad partially or totally in the hope of worsening the proliferation of the coronavirus.
At the same time, many passengers also began to cancel or reschedule their tickets, emptying many flights, which is why most airlines suspend their operations, especially international ones.
The situation is so surreal that the Charles de Gaulle airport operator in Paris has announced that it will close part of its four runways to make space for parking planes out of service. Meanwhile, Heathrow, Europe’s largest airport, concentrated all flights still active in Terminal 5, usually exclusive to British Airways.