A look at the current status of air travel

With all of the stay-at-home and quarantine orders around the world, I thought it would be fun to take a look at Flightaware.com and see what the sky looks like from a worldwide air traffic control standpoint. Here’s what Los Angeles International airport looks like right now.

The GREEN planes are all the flights that are currently in the air having departed LAX. The BLUE planes are all the flights currently inbound to LAX. This might look like a lot of flights, but it’s not even close to the volume that would be seen at one of the busiest airports in the world on a typical Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Even more noticeable is the lack of international flights, both arriving and departing. There are only four flights in the air right now inbound from Europe, two of which are coming from the United Kingdom–one Aeroflot flight from Moscow, and one Air France flight from Paris. I’m not sure why those last two are still flying when Trump has shut down all travel from Europe outside of the UK, but there they are.

Even more interesting is this look at Las Vegas’s McCarran International. On a typical Saturday morning, LAS would be swamped with arriving and departing flights, with a multitude of international flights as well. As we know, all casinos in the state are closed, along with most of the hotels attached to them. This makes Las Vegas decidedly undesirable. Here’s what LAS flights look like.

Again, green planes are outbound from LAS (fleeing the wasteland of a city that offers nothing at all when things are closed.) and blue planes are inbound to LAS. (I’m assuming mostly empty flights?) This is a pretty amazing look at the real status of things. There are around 25 flights inbound to Vegas, and the same number outbound. Normally right now there would be hundreds. Those hundreds would typically be completely full flights as well, and from what I’m hearing, many of the flights you see in the air right now are only flying to fill an FAA slot, operating at a big loss.

One thing you can see here is that there are no international flights save two from Mexico, one commercial flight from Guadalajara, and one private flight from Los Cabos. That’s it, everything else is domestic.

Looking at international flights, let’s take a peek at the normally jammed North Atlantic flight corridor between North America and Europe:

This is every flight in the air over the Atlantic right now. Normally, this area would be a huge mess of planes looking like an almost solid line of traffic going both directions. There are still plenty of flights traveling back and forth between the U.S. and Great Britain, but most of the other traffic is completely gone. It will be interesting to see what effect this travel ban ends up having on the total carbon emissions in the upper atmosphere, particularly if this ends up lasting for months.

Maybe at least something good will come from this?

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