Year 2020 was stormy for the entire world since COVID-19 pandemic struck everyone with a heavy blow, the damage caused for the aviation sector was especially strong, the loss incurred by aviation sector in Europe alone exceeded 56 milliard Euros. The air traffic industry experienced a record size recession; therefore, the airlines were forced to look for ways to survive. Nevertheless, the challenges of the last year brought on not just the losses, but also an opportunity to test our strengths. Chief Executive Officer of state enterprise Oro Navigacija Marius Beliūnas and Head of Department of Strategic Development and Innovations Lina Liuberskytė review the situation in a more detailed manner as well as provide their forecasts for 2021.
The pandemic prompted solving the problems of global nature
In 2020 the companies operating in the aviation sector, including also the air navigation service providers, faced a challenge to ensure the continuity of the provided services, in order for the cargoes necessary to fight COVID-19, the essential goods and people repatriating or travelling due to important business matters would be able to reach their destination on time.
“Even under the conditions aggravated by the pandemic Oro Navigacija worked in line with the highest standards, thus, there were no delays because of air traffic control within the airspace of our country. Appropriate decisions that were made enabled the airlines to mitigate the losses incurred during this complicated period of the pandemic and allowed the passengers to avoid the possible inconveniences”, as it was shared by Chief Executive Officer of the enterprise Marius Beliūnas.
Year 2020 was exclusive due to the environmental achievements. According to Lina Liuberskytė, the air traffic flows in Europe returned to the level of the mid-eighties, CO2 emissions decreased by more than half – the goals that were aimed at for long, pertaining to decreasing the emissions of the gases causing greenhouse effect, became easily achieved.
“Decreased flows of air traffic also enabled to solve another sensitive global scale problem, which is closely related to both environment protection and aircraft delays, namely, the aircraft jams. The manager of EUROCONTROL network embraced this advantage and improved the flight efficiency: from the beginning of the pandemic more than 1.2 thousand airspace restrictions were mitigated, which in turn enabled the airlines to save up to 26 thousand nautical miles per day”, stated Lina Liuberskytė.
Expertise swiped away by the pandemic
The world-wide pandemic had a significant influence upon the aviation sector. European airlines, airports and air navigation service providers lost 56.2 billion EUR in total. In comparison to 2019 European aircraft transported less passengers by 1.7 billion, less flights were executed by 6.1 million or on average by 55 percent. In 2020 European air navigation service providers experienced a loss amounting to 4.9 billion EUR.
“Taking into consideration the fact that Lithuanian airspace is an integral part of European air traffic control system, the losses incurred by the aviation sector influenced our enterprise as well. The number of flights serviced by Oro Navigacija in 2020 amounted to 125.2 thousand only. This number was smaller by 54 percent in comparison to 2019. Nevertheless, we should be comforted by the fact that the fall in the number of flights within Lithuanian airspace was one the smallest among European countries. The lowest decrease in the number of flights was experienced by Norway, it amounted to 40 percent, whereas the year was the most unsuccessful for Georgia, where the air traffic decreased by as much as 73 percent”, noticed M. Beliūnas.
The biggest decrease in the number of flights was recorded in April, May and June of the last year. During the last year the employees of Oro Navigacija working at four subdivisions of the enterprise located in Vilnius, Kaunas, Palanga and Šiauliai provided services to almost 32 thousand of aircraft (65 thousand of aircraft were provided such services in 2019). In 2020 there were 20.7 thousand of landing and taking off aircraft that were provided the services in Vilnius, 6 thousand aircraft in Kaunas, 2.8 thousand aircraft in Šiauliai and 2.3 thousand aircraft in Palanga.
The peak day in respect of the serviced flights was the 2nd of January, Thursday. On that day the air traffic controllers provided services to the biggest number of aircraft per day within the airspace of Lithuania – 727 flights in total. Whereas the peak day for the overflights across Lithuania during the last year was the 12th of January, Sunday. 537 aircraft were provided services during their overflights across Lithuania on that day.
The aviation sector does not expect a breakthrough in 2021
Air navigation specialists do not expect a speedy recovery. Marius Beliūnas emphasized that despite the already commenced vaccination from COVID-19, the restrictions pertaining to traveling due to the virus spreading risk may remain in force for some more time, which will not allow the aviation sector to return to the flight flow levels reached in 2019 any time soon. Based on the flight flow forecasts provided by EUROCONTROL, taking into consideration the start of vaccination and efficiency of the vaccine, European aviation sector should restore the flight flow levels of 2019 by 2024-2026 only.
It is expected that in 2021 only 51 percent of flights will be executed in Europe in comparison to 2019. Due to continued travelling restrictions, the risk of airline insolvency cases may increase significantly, therefore, solutions are sought all over the world concerning possible financial support for the aviation sector enterprises.
“The last year shook the entire aviation and prompted undergoing some changes. In order to make this sector more efficient in Europe and ensure that it would be able to survive similar crisis easier, a reform of European air traffic control system is planned. There are more and more talks about investing into technological solutions, so that the negative outcomes of COVID-19 would be overcome as soon as possible and more favourable conditions would be created for the development of European aviation sector”, stated L. Liuberskytė.
“Taking into consideration that according to the forecasts the challenges faced in 2021 will be similar to those of 2020, Oro Navigacija intends to follow a respectful strategy, i.e. that of thorough responsibility to the users of the airspace as well as financial discipline: only the necessary investments will be made, in order to ensure the implementation of quality, safety and security requirements of the provided air navigation services as well as to maintain the workplaces”, highlighted the Chief Executive Officer Marius Beliūnas.
He also added that during this especially challenging period the enterprise will not be able to plan or initiate further development of the provided air traffic services earlier than in 2022.
About state enterprise Oro Navigacija:
State enterprise Oro Navigacija is a certified European provider of air navigation services, which provides air traffic control also communication, navigation and surveillance as well as air navigation information services within the whole airspace of the Republic of Lithuania, also above the territorial waters and within the airspace of the Baltic Sea, which is part of Vilnius flight information region. The enterprise also ensures consistent activity of Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre as well as organisation and coordination of search and rescue works in case of aircraft accident.
For more information:
Head of Communications
Mobile +370 687 26 001
SE „Oro navigacija“
Balio Karvelio Str. 25, LT-02184 Vilnius
Company code: 210060460
VAT code: LT100604610
Tel.: +370 706 94 502