The UK Civil Aviation Authority has published aviation statistics for the fourth quarter of 2021. Overall, 30.9 million passengers flew in and out of the UK between October and December this year (compared to 24.8 million in the previous quarter) on 315,202 flights (286,852 flights in Q3 2021). This represents a 55% fall in passengers compared to the same period in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest quarter again saw multiple changes to the UK’s international travel rules. At the beginning of October, the Green and Amber lists were merged into the ‘Rest of the World’ grouping, whilst double vaccinated travellers to the UK were no longer required to take PCR tests on arrival, but could opt for cheaper and quicker lateral flow tests. This came at a good time - ahead of the October half term holiday - leading to higher passenger levels than observed over the summer.
All countries were removed from the Red list on 1st November, and the reopening of travel to the USA from 8th November had a further a positive effect on passenger numbers. However, later that month 11 countries were placed back onto the Red list and PCR testing reintroduced in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant. This led to many flight cancellations and some key European markets imposing bans on UK travellers, resulting in a weaker festive period than perhaps was anticipated.
The total cargo - by weight - transported was down 4% compared to the final quarter of 2019, with 680,293 tonnes of carried, however cargo dedicated flights carried a 58% increase in goods. The average flight delay increased slightly to 10 minutes per flight (up from 8 minutes in Q3 2021), whilst 82% of flights were determined to have left “on-time”.
Passenger numbers in 2021 were more heavily impacted than flights at UK airports, primarily due to travel restrictions being maintained in some form throughout the majority of the year. Air freight maintained its recent good performance as supply chains were restricted and additionally aiding the fight against the covid-19 pandemic.
Key statistics are outlined below:
- Air Transport Movements – 809,442 (down 65% on 2019).
- Passengers – 65.4million (down 78% on 2019)
- Cargo carried on cargo dedicated flights – 1.6million tonnes (up 87% on 2019)
- % On-time flights (within 15mins of scheduled) – 84% (up 9%pt on 2019)
- Average delay – 9mins (down 35% on 2019)