Forecasts

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.

Short-term

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

Flights

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.

Medium-term

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

Flights

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.

Archives

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

Long-term

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 2023 (the end of the 7-year forecast produced in September 2017) to 2040. They are:

  • Global Growth: Strong economic growth in an increasingly globalised world with technology used to mitigate effects of sustainability challenges.
  • Regulation and Growth: Moderate growth regulated to reconcile demand with sustainability issues. (Most-Likely)
  • Happy Localism: Like Regulation and Growth but with a fragile Europe adapting to less globalisation, i.e. looking increasingly inwards.
  • Fragmenting World: A world of increasing regional tensions and reduced globalisation.

For Europe (ECAC) as a whole, the Regulation and Growth scenario (most-likely) has 16.2 million flights in 2040, 53% more than 2017 (Figure 1). That is 1.9% average annual growth per year over the 2017-2040 period, a rather slower growth rate than before 2008. Indeed, over the 20 years before the economic crisis, the number of IFR movements in Europe doubled from 5 million IFR movements in 1988 to 10 million in 2008. The deceleration in growth over the next 20 years is explained by slower rates of economic growth, increasing fuel prices and increasing congestion at airports.

The recent return to traffic growth after 10 years of stagnation has been vigorous, and there are newer growth drivers—long-haul, low-cost new aircraft types, middle-class growth in China, changes in propensity to fly—which are under-represented in our forecast models because of their short histories. For this reason we recommend that, in addition to the Regulation and Growth (most-likely) scenario, particular attention is paid to the Global Growth scenario, which forecasts 84% growth in flights to 19.5 million.

Compared to the 20-year forecast published in 2013, and despite the fragile growth rates over the last five years, the current traffic matches the most-likely scenario from 2013, so the starting point of this new 20-year forecast is consistent with the previous one.

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 slightly slower forecast, together with expanded airport capacity plans is that, in the Regulation and Growth (most-likely) scenario, around 1.5 million flights (accounting for 8% of the demand) will not be accommodated in 2040. The congestion is now lower than in the previous forecast at 2035, partly because the capacity expansion plans have been added where the bottlenecks will be. However, when the capacity limits are reached, congestion at airports will increase quite rapidly (especially in Global Growth) which will lead to extra pressure on the network, and more delays.