Munich Airport Terminal. Photo: Munich Airport

LONDON – DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung controlled fewer aircraft in 2020 than at any point since it was founded in 1993. Only around 1.46 million flights were recorded in German airspace in 2020.

This represents 56.2% fewer than in the previous year, when 3.33 million aircraft movements were registered. As such, the volume of traffic in Germany has fallen back to pre-reunification levels.

Indeed, a total of 1.47 million flights were recorded in the airspace of the Federal Republic of Germany back in 1989. With just a few interruptions, the volume of traffic has risen virtually continuously since this time until the pandemic.

Frankfurt Airport Terminal. Photo: Frankfurt Airport

Air Traffic Will Not Recover Quickly


DFS does not expect the volume of air traffic to recover any time soon, even following the successful development and initial roll-out of coronavirus vaccines in individual countries.

Until that time, DFS will collect around €2 bn less in charges than originally budgeted, yet will not be able to reduce its costs to the same degree.

Source: DFS

After all, the German air navigation service provider must keep at least 70% of controllers in place, even with very low traffic figures, as the tower and airspaces cannot simply be closed.

Above all, this applies to Leipzig Halle Airport (LEJ), where the number of take-offs and landings was only around 18% lower than in the previous year.

Passengers walking through baggage and arrivals hall at airport. Photo: Skitterphoto.

Statement from DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung


Dirk Mahns, Chief Operations Officer at DFS, said, “Passenger traffic has been particularly hard hit in 2020 due to the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases now being recorded in many countries and the travel restrictions once again being imposed as a result of this.”

“Airports that handle a high proportion of freight have therefore observed significantly fewer drops in traffic. It will likely be 2025 before we see a return to pre-pandemic levels.”

Mahns also said, “We continue to provide our service, even during times of crisis. Air traffic remains highly important, not least for the distribution of vaccines throughout the world. This obviously also requires effective and reliable air navigation services.”


Featured image: Munich Airport Terminal. Photo: Munich Airport