STATFOR has three main forecast products:

Short-term forecasts

Short-term forecasts look two years ahead and are integrated in the medium-term forecast. They are published twice a year,  in February with an update in September.

Medium-term forecasts

Medium-term forecasts look seven years ahead and build on the short-term forecasts. The medium-term forecasts combine flight statistics with economic growth and with models of other important drivers in the industry such as costs, airportcapacity, passengers, load factors, aircraft size etc. The forecasts give a comprehensive picture of anticipated air traffic development in Europe.Using high- and low-growth scenarios, a likely range for growth is presented. The medium-term forecast is published in February and refreshed in September.

Long-term forecasts

Long-term forecasts are published every two years. The long-term forecasts look at a range of distinct possible scenarios for how the air traffic industry might look in 20 years time. This allows a range of ‘what if?’ questions to be explored, for factors inside the industry (e.g.the growth of small business jets,or of point-to-point traffic) or outside (e.g.the price of oil,or environmental constraints).

In 2013, as part of Challenges of Growth we have also published our first formal forecast to 2050.


STATFOR publishes short-term forecasts both of flights and of service units.


Short-term forecasts are applied to the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), an intergovernmental organization which was established by ICAO and the Council of Europe. ECAC now totals 44 members, including all 28 EU, 31 of the 32 European Aviation Safety Agency member states (exc. Liechtenstein) and all 41 EUROCONTROL member states, it is since February 2016 used as a basis for comparison at European level in the forecasts (in lieu of ESRA08 - EUROCONTROL Statistical Reference Area).

Service Units

The total service units forecasts are useful to assist the States in establishing their unit rates of route charges.

For many years, The Central Route Charge Office (CRCO) has provided a short-term forecast of total service units to all ATM stakeholders. To deliver these forecasts, CRCO has worked in close collaboration with STATFOR to better understand traffic trends and, also, to compare these forecasts with the flight forecasts.

Today, STATFOR is taking the lead and is now producing this short-term forecast of total service units for all the individual charging areas of States participating in the Multilateral Agreement. The forecast will be produced three times a year according to the schedule which can be found on CRCO's webpage.



STATFOR publishes Medium-term forecasts both of flights and of service units.


The Medium-Term Forecasts (MTF) look seven years ahead and build on the Short-Term Forecasts.

Service Units

The forecast gives a 7-years-ahead outlook of the total service units and covers charging areas in Europe as specified in the geographical scope of the EU-wide performance target setting.

The forecast methodology combines forecasts of distance factors and weight factors with the number of flights as forecast by the Medium-Term Forecast of flights. The forecast shall serve the ATM stakeholders as an independent view of future changes in service units in Europe. It can also assist the States when establishing unit rates for route charges, and serve as a reference when assessing consistency between European Union-wide and local performance targets.








The Long-Term Forecasting Approach is explained in an Annex of the report.

Summary of 2012 - 2035 Forecast

Looking 20 or more years ahead, it is more robust to consider not just a single forecast, but a range of potential scenarios for how air transport in Europe, and the factors influencing it, might develop. Through a stakeholder workshop and other consultations, four scenarios have been constructed, each describing a separate possible future from 2019 (the end of the 7-year forecast “MTF”) to 2035. They are:

  • A: Strong Global Growth with technology used to mitigate effects of sustainability challenges.
  • C: Moderate Growth Regulated to reconcile demand with sustainability issues. (Most-Likely)
  • C': Like C but with a fragile Europe adapting to Happy Localism, i.e. looking increasingly inwards.
  • D: A Fragmenting World of increasing regional tensions and reduced globalisation.

For Europe (ESRA) as a whole, the most-likely scenario C (Regulated Growth) has 14.4 million flights in 2035, 50% more than 2012. That is 1.8% average annual growth, or around half the rate observed in the 40 years to 2008. The weakest scenario (Scenario D) has just 20% more flights in 2035 than in 2012, and the strongest growth (Scenario A) 80% more.

Compared to the forecast published in 2010, the starting point is lower due to the economic downturn and the rate of growth is also lower, due to weaker economic outlook and reduced airport capacity plans. The traffic growth will be faster in the early years, stronger in Eastern Europe and for arrivals/departures to/from outside Europe than for intra-European flights.

Air traffic growth will be limited by the available capacity at the airports; this forecast is based on capacity plans reported by airports in a new survey. The combination of a lower forecast, but reduced airport expansion plans is that, in the most-likely scenario, around 1.9 million flights (accounting for 12% of the demand) will not be accommodated in 2035. The congestion is now lower than in the previous forecast at 2030. The recent drop in traffic has given the system some extra years to react. However, when the capacity limits are reached, congestion at airports will increase quite rapidly (especially in scenario A) which will lead to extra pressure on the network, and more delays. Even with airport capacity restrictions, airports will grow. In 2035, there will be 20 airports handling more than 150,000 departures a year in the most-likely scenario; a level of traffic currently achieved at 8 airports only. Some faster-growing airports in Southern and Eastern Europe will join the top 25 within the 20-year horizon (though the list depends on the scenario).

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