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Air traffic surveillance data used in analysis by Bank of England


The Bank of England included an analysis of data in the latest ‘Monetary Policy Report’ for May 2020 from the OpenSky Network, a research project by several universities and government entities with the goal to improve the security, reliability and efficiency of the airspace. Professor Ivan Martinovic, Head of System Security Lab, a research group at the Department of Computer Science, alongside colleague Martin Strohmeier, Research Officer at the Department of Computer Science, have been working closely with OpenSky Network. The network, which began as a research project that was founded in 2012 by the Department of Computer Science, armasuisse and University of Kaiserslautern, now includes a number of other members from other organisations.


The latest report from the Bank of England, which establishes the economic impact of COVID-19 (using data from the OpenSky Network) displays a sharp decline in the number of aircraft departures from four major airports, Heathrow, London; JFK, New York; Schipol, Amsterdam; Incheon, Seoul. The report states economic activity has fallen sharply around the world as a result of COVID-19 and that: ‘Travel has been severely restricted because of the pandemic. The number of commercial flights leaving US and European airports has fallen by around 90% since the start of March’ (1). Data from the OpenSky Network is also referred to as a high-frequency indicator for gross domestic product (GDP) forecasting. The Bank of England use this data to show the rapid decline of aircraft departures over March from UK airports including Birmingham, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton, Manchester and Stansted. ‘As business output surveys are providing a less useful steer than usual, Bank staff are using a wider range of indicators to gauge how GDP is likely to evolve. These include new weekly surveys of businesses and households and high-frequency spending data (Chart 2.26).’ (2) Using this and other sources, the bank staff estimate that monthly GDP will fall by enough in March to pull GDP down by around three percent.


The Bank of England Monetary Policy Report for May 2020 can be viewed in full here.



(1)  Bank of England Monetary Policy Report May 2020. 2.3 Current Economic Conditions. P22.

(2) Bank of England Monetary Policy Report May 2020.  2.3 Current Economic Conditions. P33.