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Ryanair is the busiest European airline with over 2,000 flights in the past week

The airline’s current dominance reflects the slower recovery of long-haul operators

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The number of flights in Ireland is up 31pc over the past two weeks. Photo: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

The number of flights in Ireland is up 31pc over the past two weeks. Photo: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

The number of flights in Ireland is up 31pc over the past two weeks. Photo: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Ryanair is Europe’s busiest airline operator as the aviation sector struggles back to life, with more than 2,000 flights over the past week.

New data from intergovernmental aviation agency Eurocontrol shows domestic flights  currently dominate activity for European airlines – making up eight  of the top 10 routes by volume. However there are signs international sun-holiday routes between Mediterranean destinations and both the UK and Germany are growing. International connections from Ireland – which are traditionally among Europe’s busiest – remain extremely muted despite the rollout of the EU vaccination cert.  

Ryanair’s current dominance as Europe’s busiest airline reflects the slower recovery of long-haul operators versus domestic and European short-haul activity. The Irish airline’s figure of more than 2,000 flights over the past week was still 22pc down on the same week in 2019. By comparison, British Airways, with a much heavier reliance on long-haul, is still down 74pc on its 2019 level. 

Across Europe as a whole the number of flights increased significantly at the start of both June and July, so that after having been stable since January at around 35pc of 2019 levels, activity is now closer to two thirds of what it was. However, passenger numbers continue to lag. The data shows cargo volumes and business travel running ahead of 2019 levels, at a Europe-wide level. 

In Ireland there are signs the vaccination rollout and the advent of the vaccine cert are encouraging travellers back into the air. The number of flights is up 31pc over the past two weeks, though not nearly enough to be among Europe’s busiest markets.

The US, one of Ireland’s most important travel links, remains closed to European travellers, one reason overall volumes from Dublin Airport remain low compared with European peers. 

US President Joe Biden said last week that the US is reviewing when restrictions  that ban most non-US citizens from entering America may be lifted, after prompting from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. That raised hopes a loosening could be on the cards. But this week the US retained its ban on non essential entry to the country across its land borders with Canada and Mexico in an indication that opening up to Europeans could still be some way off.

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