UK air navigation service NATS has illustrated the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the country’s air traffic through a comparison with airspace activity a year ago.

It has visualised aircraft movements on 25 March 2020, when 1,415 flights were handled, against the 6,224 flights on same date in 2019.

Source: NATS

NATS chief executive Martin Rolfe says the crisis has reduced UK air traffic volumes by 77%, with the decline higher in other European countries such as Germany, France and Spain.

“It seems certain that the UK’s numbers will fall further as repatriation flights end,” he adds.

“There remains great uncertainty around the medium- and long-term impact all this will have on the global aviation industry and its ability to recover once the crisis has passed.”

Rolfe points out that NATS is taking measures to protect air traffic personnel.

He adds that ensuring controller licences remain valid during the downturn is a “concern” and that this situation is being discussed with the Civil Aviation Authority.