Global commercial air traffic tracked by Flightradar24 is 4.9% lower in March 2020 compared to 2019. This decrease is expected to accelerate as expanding governmental prohibitions on travel by certain persons affect the number of flights operated by airlines around the world.

Commercial air traffic down 4.9% in March 2020

The decline has continued since February, when flights were down 4.3% compared to 2019, as airlines and governments respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Through 11 March, we have tracked 1,130,536 commercial flights (out of 1,944,276 total flights). For the same 11 days in March 2019, commercial flights tracked were 1,188,221 (out of 1,853,901 total).

Commerical flights tracked so far in 2020

Commercial traffic includes scheduled passenger or cargo flights operated by an airline. Excluded here are non-scheduled private flights, general aviation, gliders, and balloons.

The major decline in commercial traffic began during the third week of January and accelerated in to February before making a modest recovery toward the end of the month into the first week of March as China restarted some flights. In the second week of March, governments around the world have begun implementing restrictions on travel that have led to a further—and continuing—decrease in the number of flights operated globally. We expect this to continue as the US implements restrictions on non-US passengers from Europe. Indeed, airlines like Finnair are cancelling their entire US schedule, while others, like airlines in the Lufthansa group are limiting their network.

Global air traffic

March continues to be well below historical levels of growth and we expect this to continue as well. The graph below shows all flights tracked by Flightradar24 from May 2016 through 11 March 2020.

Total flights tracked May 2016 to March 2020

Ian Petchenik’s love of aviation began at an early age growing up next to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. As Flightradar24’s director of communications and co-host of the AvTalk podcast Ian now gets to share that passion for aviation with millions of Flightradar24 users and listeners around the world.

In this article

Try the Gold plan for 7 days…

Join over 500,000 subscribers and get access to 50+ premium-only features including:

No adsCustom alerts365 day flight historyWeather chartsAdditional aircraft details
No ads
Custom alerts
365 day flight history
Weather charts
Additional aircraft details

Start 7-day Gold plan

See all plans

No commitment. Cancel any time.

Send this to a friend