Travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic led to a 56.9 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from flights across Europe last year compared with 2019, according to a report from Eurocontrol released Tuesday. The cuts essentially fall in line with the 54.5 percent decline in the number of departing flights, the agency noted.
The report shows considerable differences in CO2 reduction between countries, however, driven by differences in the local fleet (lighter or heavier, younger or older aircraft), flight distances (shorter- or longer-haul), the mix of market segments (cargo, scheduled, business aviation, etc.), and the extent of the Covid-19-related decline in flights.
For example, in Belgium, departing flights declined by about half in 2020, similar to the European average. CO2 production fell only 30 percent, however, due largely to the high proportion of cargo flights operating from the country. Cargo operations in Belgium, which increased from 11 percent of the total in 2019 to 25 percent in 2020, use larger aircraft and fly farther than the Belgian average, and therefore generate above-average CO2 emissions.
The second reason centered on the fact that the high number of short-haul cancellations resulted in the average scheduled flight traveling far longer distances than those in 2019 and, therefore, generating more CO2.