Airline capacity bounces back as air travel chaos continues

by Airlineratings Editors
June 08, 2022
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Global airline capacity has bounced back this week with airlines scheduling 95.2m seats according to a new report from OAG.

OAG said that having seen airline capacity reach above 90m seats last week, which felt like a positive step forward, this week’s total capacity represents a definite leap forward.

It added that only one country’s market can have such an impact in just one week and that is China, where the re-opening of Shanghai from June 1 has triggered a big increase in capacity, with totals for North-East Asia increasing week on week by a quarter or 3.4m seats.

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OAG said that the USA is on the rise this week too, with capacity increases of 3.2 per cent on last week, pushing it ahead of Western Europe to become the largest region by capacity. In the same period, airlines in North America have added 0.7m seats, much of it in the USA. Globally, airline capacity is now sitting at less than 15 per cent below the same week in 2019.

Whilst the USA remains in the top spot as the largest country market for scheduled airline capacity, China has made significant inroads to the gap in the last week. The OAG report said that “capacity in China has increased by more than a third (37.8 per cent) compared to last week, reminding us that there are few country markets capable of switching capacity on in this way.”

It added that Greece continues its steady growth this week, adding 5.5 per cent capacity week on week and now reaching heights of 8.5 per cent above 2019. Only four of the top 20 country markets remain above 2019 this week- India, Mexico, Vietnam and Greece.

OAG said that “it seems clear from the ongoing challenges at some airports across Western Europe that this may be a difficult summer for travel. We have already seen easyJet scale back their summer 2022 schedule to try and get ahead of on-the-day cancellations, and every day at the moment seems to bring a fresh round of cancellations and delays for travellers.”

OAG warned that “unfortunately, there is no quick fix for the staff shortages faced by the industry. Many who were made redundant or furloughed due to the Covid-19 pandemic moved into other industries, and for those entering the industry, the recruitment cycle for new employees at airports and airlines is much longer than in other industries.”

“Thorough security and background checks can take up to between 3-6 months. For an industry that was still effectively shut down in the early part of 2022, ramping back up to deal with peak summer demand was always going to take a bit of time,” the OAG said.