The number of passengers who took flights in November has fallen by 4.7 percent compared to the same month last year, according to the Association of European Airlines (AEA).
Such a fall in numbers has not been seen since the onset of the Iraq conflict in 2003 and has been described as "unprecedented" by the AEA because it relates to a period unaffected by conflict or external events.
Capacity had also fallen by 2.7 percent – despite the normal trading environment. According to an AEA press release: "With the inception of the winter timetable season, 21 out of the 31 airlines who report passenger data had instituted capacity cuts, planned in advance as economic conditions deteriorated during the summer."
It is thought that structural changes have contributed to the decline in passenger numbers in Europe, while the north Atlantic region saw the biggest fall – by 7 percent. Traffic in the far east decreased by 3 percent while South Atlantic suffered a fall of one percent.
Previous AEA figures from October revealed that flight passengers had increased by the smallest possible amount of 0.1 percent – something that has proved to be an anomaly.