Stefan Weckenmann November 16 2022 Germany's 2022-2023 winter flight schedule: impacts of covid-19 still being felt Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein | Aviation - Germany Stefan Weckenmann Aviation IntroductionOverviewIntercontinental trafficInner-European trafficDomestic trafficIntroductionWhile some airlines have already begun to experience regrowth following the covid-19 pandemic, most airports are still struggling to recover. This article presents an overview of the first winter flight schedule after the major covid-19-related restrictions.Pursuant to section 21(2) of the German Air Traffic Act, flight schedules, fares and conditions of carriage must be made available to the public and presented to the competent authority upon request.The current winter flight schedule has been running since 30 October 2022 and will continue until 25 March 2023. It is considered the first winter flight schedule since the far-reaching covid-19-related restrictions. What has changed in Germany since the pandemic?OverviewAfter a turbulent summer, things are quietening down again at German airports with the start of the new flight schedule period. While around 170 million seats were on offer to and from Germany in the seven-month summer flight schedule that has now come to an end, airlines are planning a capacity of around 80 million seats for the next five months.This decline is not unusual: compared with the summer, fewer flights are always conducted in Europe in winter. Of the flights that airlines launched for the 2019-2020 winter flight schedule, around 71% will return in Winter 2022-2023.Intercontinental trafficTraffic to intercontinental destinations is developing strongly. In Winter 2022-2023, nearly 270 routes are being offered – 83% of the pre-pandemic level. Traffic to North America stands out in particular, with flights on offer reaching 95% of the 2018-2019 winter flight schedule. Although fewer routes are being offered than before the pandemic (four less than in Winter 2018-2019), the frequency of flights on the routes served has increased and is 3% higher than pre-pandemic levels. In addition, new destinations are being offered to the United States.Traffic to Asia has also returned, following the end of rigid travel restrictions in several Asian countries, which resulted in severe limitations. Compared with the same period last year, the number of flights to Asia has almost doubled in Winter 2022-2023, increasing by 93%. The number of routes on offer has increased by 16 to 51 compared with Winter 2021-2022.China, in contrast, remains closed. In addition, the Russian overflight bans during the Russia-Ukraine conflict partly explain why many air carriers are focusing on routes via the North Atlantic.In all intercontinental traffic to and from Germany, 43% more seats are being offered than in the same period last year. Recovery has been particularly strong in the two major hubs in Germany: Frankfurt am Main and Munich. As a result, the number of seats on connecting flights from German locations to Munich and Frankfurt has grown by 51%.Inner-European trafficThe number of flights to inner-European destinations has almost been restored, with 76% of pre-pandemic flights having returned. In Winter 2022-2023, 880 routes will be offered. This is 10 routes fewer than in Winter 2021-2022; however, the frequency density of flights has increased by 35%.The increase is characterised in particular by tourist airlines and European network airlines. In the case of tourist airlines, the number of seats on offer has increased by 64% compared with Winter 2021-2022 and is thus well above the pre-pandemic level. European network airlines are expanding their capacity by 39%, reaching 79% of the pre-pandemic level.Domestic trafficAcross domestic German air traffic, 51% of the number of seats offered in the pre-pandemic period are planned for Winter 2022-2023. At the same time, the number of routes offered will fall by 16 to 41% compared with the 2018-2019 winter flight schedule, and the average frequency will drop by 29%.While some airlines in Germany are already growing again, others have not yet reached pre-pandemic figures. Easyjet, for example, withdrew significantly from Germany during the pandemic and is now reducing even further. With a drastic reduction in its Berlin base, the airline has slipped from third to seventh place in the German market. Easyjet's seat capacity to and from Germany has fallen by 73%.This decrease of flights by Easyjet is especially evident at Berlin airport. However, there is also a large-scale lack of Berlin capacity from Ryanair, Eurowings and Russian airlines. This was already the case in the 2022 summer flight schedule. As a result, Berlin will only achieve 60% of its pre-pandemic winter capacity. Eurowings is also increasingly focusing on European markets after the pandemic. In recent years, new foreign bases have been established in Prague and Stockholm, while traffic to, from and within Germany has been cut back. Overall, Eurowings has about half its pre-pandemic capacity in Winter 2022-2023.In addition to easyjet and Eurowings, Ryanair is also missing at Düsseldorf airport. Here, seat capacities compared with the 2019-2020 winter flight schedule reach just 64%. Frankfurt am Main is, by some distance, the best performing of the major locations, with a level of around 80% of the pre-crisis level, while Munich is in line with the German average, with minus 28%.At Hahn airport, Memmingen and Erfurt, providers have significantly more capacity: at Hahn, Ryanair and Wizz Air have increased their departures significantly, and the same applies to the Memmingen airport. Airports in Dortmund, Baden-Baden, Weeze, Friedrichshafen, Rostock and Sylt are also starting Winter 2022-2023 with declines compared with Winter 2019-2020, but they are all significantly above the overall average of minus 29%.For further information on this topic please contact Stefan Weckenmann at Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein by telephone (+49 69 97 98 85 0) or email ([email protected]). The Arnecke Sibeth Dabelstein website can be accessed at www.asd-law.com.