Global flight numbers: 40% lower in 2021 vs 2019

Global flight numbers: 40% lower in 2021 vs 2019

A new report by Airbus shows air travel recovery still has a way to go

The latest edition of the annual Statistical Analysis of Commercial Aviation Accidents report published by Airbus found that though there has been some improvement, flight numbers recorded in 2021 are still well below 2019 figures.

According to the report, around 22 million flight departures were recorded in 2021, representing a 40% decrease in flight departures recorded in 2019 when almost 36 million flights were registered.

On a positive note, very few accidents were reported last year. Five accidents were registered, one less than in 2020. The slight improvement demonstrates the industry’s resilience to maintain a high level of safety despite the challenges of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. However, with the number of flights still lower than pre-pandemic levels, it’s not possible to say if it shows a sustained improvement of the overall safety performance.


The statistics also show that the majority of flights in service are operating the latest and safest fourth generation aircraft. Comparing accident rates by generation of aircraft clearly illustrates the value of the investments made through technology to improve safety.

The study also underlined that the industry has evolved significantly since the earliest days of commercial aviation, continuously improving the level of safety, especially over the past 20 years. This is reflected in how the industry manages security risks and the health on board for everyone flying today.

Commenting on the report, Airbus Commercial Aircraft chief product safety officer Yannick Malinge said: “This encouraging evolution of accident statistics illustrates that individual and collective efforts are paying off. It is all about making sure we permanently reinforce our safety culture.” 

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