If July was the best month in Spain’s aviation history, August’s records confirm that we are witnessing a record summer in terms of the number of flights operated.

ENAIRE, an agency of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and the Urban Agenda (Mitma) that is tasked with managing air navigation in Spain, managed a cumulative total of 443,942 operations in July and August, equivalent to a daily average of 7,160 flights per day.

This figure confirms the recovery of the sector in Spain following the outbreak of the COVID pandemic in 2020, as well as ENAIRE’s leadership among European air navigation service providers in recent years.

The record of 2019 has been surpassed twice in the summer of 2023: On Saturday 22 July, ENAIRE managed 7,449 flights, a record, thus exceeding the previous record reached in July 2019, when 7,425 flights were managed in one day. A total of 7,440 flights were handled on 12 August, also surpassing the 2019 record.

The data is highly relevant because it confirms a trend that gives us confidence that the aviation sector’s recovery is firm and sustained. Given the number of flights operated in Spain compared to those operated in Europe, this is a recovery that ratifies our country as a catalyst for a key sector for the economy and employment.

Considering the quality of service, delays have been reduced by 17% compared to 2019 and when counting only the causes of delays attributable to ENAIRE, the reduction reaches 34% in the first 8 months of the year, compared to the delay data for 2019, highlighting the value of the measures implemented by ENAIRE in its Strategic Plan (Flight Plan 2025) and in its Summer Plan for the 2023 season.

With regard to environmental sustainability, ENAIRE’s environmental commitment through airspace restructuring measures, flexible airspace management and more direct routes has led to a reduction of 118,000 nautical miles flown, equivalent to 218,000 kilometres, which translates into 4,000 tonnes of CO2 avoided into the atmosphere and 1,300 tonnes of fuel saved.

Data from January to August: 11.8% more flights

The cumulative figures for the year are highly positive. In the first eight months of the year, ENAIRE has handled more than 1.4 million flights (1,457,670), 11.8% more than in the same period of 2022. International flights (823,808) were up by 10%, national flights (296,126), rose 7.9%, and overflights (337,736) —flights that do not depart from or arrive at a Spanish airport— increased 20.0%.

In these first eight months, all ENAIRE’s air traffic control centres saw increases in the number of flights managed. Notable among the cumulative figures are Seville with 327,566 flights managed, a 15.8% increase; Barcelona, with 694,607, 12.2% more, and Madrid, with 789,515, 11.8% more.

In the aviation sector, 2019 is usually taken as the reference year, prior to the stoppage caused by the COVID crisis. Therefore, the comparison of January to August 2023 with the same period of the record year of 2019 also shows a slightly positive balance for Spain (0.02%), while Europe as a whole remains in air traffic recovery numbers below 2019 at -9.4%.

Data from August

As for August alone, ENAIRE handled 220,835 flights. This record is 6.9% up on the same month in 2022. Of those, 129,027 were international, 7.1% up, 41,156 were domestic, 2.4% up, and 50,652 were overflights, a 10.3% increase. It should be noted that the number of flights managed also increased in August at the five domestic air traffic control centres.

ENAIRE managed 1.0% more flights in August 2023 than in the same month in 2019, while the average in Europe was 6.6% lower than the average for the continent in the same month of that year, which is typically used as a reference in the sector.

Service quality, ENAIRE’s commitment

The measures and projects undertaken by ENAIRE through its strategic initiative 2025 Flight Plan have led to a noticeable improvement in service quality indices when compared to the pre-pandemic traffic record year of 2019, measured in terms of delay reduction, which means a clear benefit for airlines and, as a result, for society as a whole.

The cumulative delay due to Spanish regulations as of August (including all causes) has been cut by 16.6% compared to 2019, while traffic was above the record benchmarks for 2019 and with an 11.8% increase in cumulative traffic in 2022.

When taking into account only the causes of delay attributable to ENAIRE and, despite the increase in traffic, the reduction in delays compared to the 2019 reference is even greater, down 33.9% in the cumulative period January-August 2023, confirming the effectiveness of the measures laid out by ENAIRE in its 2023 Summer Plan.