On the face of it, the data looks slightly positive this week with capacity increasing by a strong 3.8% week-on-week, with 81.4 million seats reported. In comparison to two years ago, we remain at -26% but nevertheless, Omicron (the latest Covid variant) appears not to have damaged the short-term capacity of airlines around the globe. Of course, airline capacity remains one part of a complex equation of demand, yield and operating costs. The real test in the coming week will be how well demand holds up, certainly from my own experiences in the last few weeks, it’s strong!
The real test of the impact from Omicron is likely to be around the medium-term demand for travel. And, when that medium-term demand covers one of the hardest periods of the airline year, the first quarter, it is no surprise that airlines are looking hard at their finances once again. Scheduled airline capacity for the first quarter of 2022 currently stands at 1.149 billion seats. Last week it was 1.157 billion, so a reduction of around 8 million, this is one of the lowest rolling forward adjustments we have seen for a long time in the data. The aviation industry has not yet been spooked as badly as politicians by Omicron, or perhaps it is now more experienced from recent learnings about how to handle such events.
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