Overview of Aviation Sector

  • The number of flights in EU28+EFTA increased by 8% between 2014 and 2017, and grows by 42% from 2017 to 2040 in the most-likely forecast.
  • Technological improvements, fleet renewal and increased operational efficiency have been able to partially counterbalance the impact of recent growth, but there has still been an increase in overall noise and emissions since 2014.
  • In 2016, aviation was accountable for 3.6% of the total EU28 greenhouse gas emissions and for 13.4% of the emissions from transport.
  • In 2011, aviation accounted for 3.2% of the total population exposed to Lden levels above 55 dB from all sources covered by the EU Environmental Noise Directive.
  • The number of people exposed to significant noise around 47 major European airports shows potential stabilisation, but under an assumption of no change in population and no airport expansion.
  • The number of major airports that handle more than 50,000 annual aircraft movements is expected to increase from 82 in 2017 to 110 in 2040, and therefore aviation noise may well affect new populations.
  • The environmental efficiency of aviation continues to improve and, by 2040, further improvements are expected in average fuel burn per passenger kilometre flown (-12%) and noise energy per flight (-24%).
  • By 2040, CO2 and NOX emissions are predicted to increase by at least 21% and 16% respectively.

Analysis scope and assumptions

Historical air traffic data in this section comes from Eurostat and EUROCONTROL, whose 20-year STATFOR traffic forecast provided the future traffic scenarios representing ‘high’, ‘base’ (most likely) and ‘low’ growth rates. The coverage is all flights from or to airports in the European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA). For more details on models, analysis methods, forecasts, supporting data sources and assumptions used in this section, please refer to Appendix C.