Regional capacity woes behind Czech summer traffic downturn

European capacity problems had a knock-on effect for Czech air navigation services this summer which saw the first year-on-year decrease in traffic in 30 years.This development was caused by capacity problems in the central European region, especially in Austria and Hungary.

In the summer season, 522,681 movements were recorded in Czech airspace which represents a year-on-year decrease in traffic by 2.2 per cent compared to 2018 (534,076 movements).

Traffic has traditionally been strongest in July, when the Prague area control centre provided its services to 95,207 movements – a daily average of 3,070. Despite the lower volume of traffic, the total volume of air traffic in Czech airspace in 2019 is expected again to exceed 900,000 movements.

Lufthansa remains the company’s largest customer, followed by Emirates and Ryanair.

Given the capacity problems of the pan-European air traffic system and at the request of the European Air Navigation Safety Agency, air traffic control agency ANS Czech Republic stepped up measures to maintain an acceptable delay rate in central and western Europe.

“As a result of these measures, as well as due to capacity problems in Hungary and Austria,” the air navigation service provider said, “a significant portion of traffic outside the Czech airspace was redirected, mainly northwards through Poland or southwards through Serbia and Croatia.”

In the summer season 2019, the capacity requirements of all airspace users in the Czech Republic were met and the delay rate decreased by 44 per cent compared to 2018. The company’s share of the European delay is thus negligible at 1.1 per cent. “This fact and the work of Czech air traffic controllers was appreciated both by Eurocontrol and by air carriers in the evaluation of the summer season,” it said.

Selected operational information

Total traffic in the summer season 2019 522,681 movements
The strongest traffic in one month – July 2019 95,207 movements
Highest traffic in one day – July 12, 2019 3,210 movements
Total number of passengers in Czech airspace in summer 2019 * 80 million

* With an average capacity of 150 seats per aircraft