UK flight levels show strong recovery in the first half of 2023

Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5C (satellite 2) viewed from airfield, May 2011. David Dyson
Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5C (satellite 2) viewed from airfield, May 2011. David Dyson
By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 3 Min Read
3 Min Read

The aviation industry in the United Kingdom has been steadily recovering from the impact of the pandemic, as revealed by specialist aviation analytics firm Cirium.

The first half of 2023 witnessed a significant increase in flight levels compared to the previous year, showcasing a promising growth trajectory for the industry.

The year to date

Between January and June 2023, a total of 447,646 flights departed from UK airports. This accounts for more than 79 million seats available to passengers.

While this is an impressive figure, it is important to note that it represents only 85% of the flight levels seen in the same period in 2019. In 2019, 527,972 flights took off from UK airports during the first six months.

Source: Cirium

Despite the lingering impact of the pandemic and ongoing staffing shortages, the number of departures in the first half of 2023 experienced a substantial increase.

Comparing to the first half of 2022, departures rose by nearly one quarter (23%). Moreover, there was an astounding 453% surge in departures compared to the same period in 2021.

These statistics highlight the industry’s resilience and determination to bounce back from the challenges faced.


Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport.

Leading airlines and future outlook

When it comes to the leading airlines in the UK during the first half of 2023, easyJet emerged as the largest player with 87,544 departures from UK airports.

British Airways, Ryanair, Loganair, and Jet2 followed suit, making their mark in the aviation landscape.

Looking ahead to the second half of 2023, current schedules indicate a further increase in flight levels. Approximately 511,470 flights are projected to depart from UK airports during this period, marking a 14% growth compared to the first half of the year.

This positive trajectory suggests that the industry’s recovery and expansion efforts are on track.

Furthermore, the projected departures for the second half of 2023 are expected to reach 92% of the flight levels witnessed in 2019.

This indicates a strong upward trend and signals a robust recovery for the aviation industry in the UK.


The first half of 2023 showcased a remarkable recovery in flight levels for the aviation sector in the United Kingdom. Despite the lingering impact of the pandemic and staffing challenges, flight levels experienced significant growth compared to previous years.

With leading airlines like easyJet, British Airways, Ryanair, Loganair, and Jet2 at the forefront, the industry is poised for further expansion in the second half of the year.

The projected UK flight levels for the latter half of 2023 indicate a strong recovery trend, bringing optimism for the future of the UK aviation industry.

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