With governments imposing travel bans and airlines reducing or ceasing operations due to the coronavirus outbreak, there has been an unprecedented drop in global flight operations. Data from flight tracking website Flightradar24 shows that commercial air traffic levels worldwide in the past two weeks of March fell 41 percent below levels recorded during the same period in 2019. Many airports around the world are virtually empty, particularly in Italy and Spain where there have been devastating COVID-19 outbreaks.
In the United States where there now more than 141,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, major airports are following the same trend as those in Europe with traffic falling drastically. This infographic shows the scale of the disruption by tracking departures at a selection of major U.S. airports including those in New York and New Orleans which are currently experiencing severe outbreaks. Flightradar24's statistics show that 603 departing flights were tracked at JFK at the end of the first week of March and that fell noticeably to 219 three weeks later. Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia also experienced steep declines during the same period.
Airports serving cities away from the worst outbreaks of the disease have also seen their departures fall steadily over the past three weeks. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International, the world's busiest airport for passenger traffic since 1998, saw its departures fall from 1,279 to 561 during between March 06 and March 27. Chicago O'Hare, another of the country's busiest hubs, experienced a fall from 1,300 departing flights to 648. Given that the number of COVID-19 cases is continuing to rise rapidly, disruption levels are expected to worsen even further in the weeks ahead.