The situation is quite different in continental Europe, where vaccines have been slower to arrive and flights last week were down 64 per cent from 2019. Uncertainty around UK travel rules has forced Heathrow airport to plan for anywhere from 13m to 36m passengers this year, down from 81m in 2019. Low-cost carriers are better positioned to move routes around.
“Historically we compared the US and Chinese domestic markets with short-haul travel within the single European sky. The pandemic has been a sobering reminder that the latter is at heart an international market and much more complex to restart,” says Geoffrey Weston of Bain & Co.