Airlines added more seats back to their flight schedules this week, led by carriers China and Hong Kong, suggesting the industry is starting to recover from the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide.
Carriers globally added a net 600,000 seats to reach a total of almost 30 million, up about 2% from the previous week, OAG senior analyst John Grant wrote in a report. That’s still a long way off the weekly capacity of about 110 million seats this time last year, but it is an encouraging sign nonetheless.
Northeast Asia is a bright spot. China, the first place hit by the virus, added 1 million seats to schedules this week, including 800,000 on domestic routes, and is now operating twice as many seats as the U.S. as its economy reopens. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. added 40,000 seats and increased frequency by some 120 flights, Grant said.
“China’s domestic capacity stands at 75% of January’s level, the United States at 27% and Russia at 49% of pre Covid-19 levels,” he said. “For anyone interested the U.K. level is now some 4%.”
Some markets are still on a downtrend as travel restrictions are kept in place to contain the virus, which has infected more than 4 million people and killed nearly 290,000.
Seat capacity on South Asian airlines dropped 14% this week and is 72% lower than in January, but it could bounce back as India considers restarting flights following a nationwide lockdown, Grant said.
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