There is a lot going on not only on the road and on the rails, but also in the air: German air traffic control is registering an enormous increase in flights – also because of the Ukraine war.

The more relaxed corona situation and the Ukraine war are causing a lot of movement in the sky. According to the German Air Traffic Control (DFS), the increase in traffic in the airspace after two years of the Corona lull is enormous.

“We are currently at around 90 percent of 2019 traffic. At peak times, our controllers are even controlling more flights than before the crisis,” said a spokeswoman. This applies in particular to the DFS headquarters in Karlsruhe, which monitors the upper airspace over Germany.

In the 22nd calendar week (May 31 to June 5), 59,972 flights were registered. In the 22nd week of 2019, 69,161 flights were counted.

Significantly more military flights

DFS has registered an additional increase in traffic of around ten percent for Germany simply due to large-scale shifts in traffic flows due to airspace closures over Russia and the Ukraine. In addition, there are significantly more military flights over Germany due to the war. And another effect means more work: Because air traffic control in France is introducing a new air traffic control system, there is additional traffic in German airspace.

“The increase in traffic after the Corona crisis is good news for the entire aviation industry. But it not only poses challenges for airlines and airport operators, it also challenges DFS – especially in combination with the additional military traffic caused by the war in Ukraine,” said Dirk Mahns, DFS Managing Director for operational services at the German Press Agency. He pointed out that the staff had already done a lot under difficult conditions during the pandemic. In his own words, however, he is confident about the summer months.

The airspace over Germany is like a jigsaw puzzle. It is divided into areas. In radar control centers, teams of two monitor individual sectors. In Karlsruhe, DFS operates Europe’s largest control center for the upper airspace above 7500 meters. Flights over Germany are monitored here around the clock. In normal years, there are 1.8 million flights a year. In the first Corona year 2020 there were 861,182. Eurocontrol in Maastricht, Netherlands, is responsible for the upper airspace over north-west Germany.