Since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the measures to contain its spread, almost half a million fewer flights have been carried out to and from the Netherlands.

It will probably also take years before air traffic returns to pre-crisis levels, European air traffic controller Eurocontrol reported in a report on the Netherlands.

The decrease in the number of departing and arriving flights from 1 March 2020 amounts to 487,000.

In the whole of 2020, the number of flights fell by about 55 percent.

There is now an average of 778 flights per day.

That's about 57 percent less compared to 2019 at the same time of year.

This means that the decrease this year has become slightly larger than the average decrease of last year.

Another factor is that the figure for 2020 will be slightly raised by the first weeks of March, before the pandemic really broke out, and the limited recovery of air traffic in the summer.

Eurocontrol uses different scenarios in its forecast for the coming years, depending on the pace of the vaccination campaign.

In any case, the number of flights before 2024 will not be back to the level of 2019, the air traffic controller thinks.

In the most likely scenario, the number of flights this year will be about 44 percent of the level of the last year before the crisis.

Next year, that would improve to 69 percent, to 81 percent in 2023, and to about 93 percent by 2024.