Global air traffic is on the rebound with numbers at 45 percent of the pre-COVID level but still only the equivalent of traffic in 1996.
In a new report, the world’s leading airline schedule data source OAG said that last week there were 53.8 million weekly seats available across the globe.
But to give that context OAG said that in 1996, the earliest online year for OAG data there were some 52.6million seats.
However, a real positive said OAG’s John Grant is that “the capacity drop out for this week compared to that planned last week was only 3 percent indicating airlines are finally getting a closer grip on planned operations as the recovery continues.”
The OAG says that growth is faster than some had thought, but it varies considerably across the globe.
“Nine of the ten largest regional markets reported further growth this week ranging from 16 percent in Western Europe through to the only market reporting a decline; the Southwest Pacific region with a 2 percent reduction incapacity.”
“Many of the regional markets remain at or around 50 percent of their January capacity levels; the notable exceptions being North-East Asia and Eastern Europe where capacity is edging ever closer to three-quarters of the January base point.”
In the Australian and Southwest Pacific region, OAG noted that “a lack of international scheduled services continues to hamper any significant recovery in air traffic which is at just 26 percent of its January level.
But big mover says OAG is the UK with “a staggering 47 percent increase” in air traffic capacity week on week.
“The opportunity for escaping to the beaches and sunspots of Europe just as the summer holiday season commences proving irresistible, apparently,” says OAG.
Spain also a big mover with Italy, France, and Germany not far behind.
In the US, giants American and United Airlines are adding capacity as are the big three Chinese airlines.
OAG said that while some airlines are showing a recovery, at least from a capacity perspective, others continue to struggle. Emirates for instance are only operating some 17 percent of their normal weekly capacity; British Airways only 19 percent despite the other UK based airlines being much more positive in their recovery and Singapore Airlines just 5 percent of a normal week’s operation.
OAG says that nearly 140 airlines who operated scheduled services in January have yet to restart operations and some of those sadly will not be returning at all.