China Southern Airlines becomes the worlds largest airline (again!)
11/06/2020|5:11:02 PM|OAG

The last week has probably been one of the most depressing ever in the aviation industry as a series of airlines reported billion-dollar quarterly losses, major carriers announced large redundancy programmes and more and more scheduled airlines revealed plans to cut capacity by up to 30% over the IATA winter season. The loss of another one million seats takes total global capacity down to 55.6 million, 52% of both the January base point and last year’s weekly total.

On the good news front travel bubbles are being tested and already bursting as travellers arriving within a bubble then catch a domestic flight to a destination outside of the bubble. Surely whoever thought about such bubbles had worked through some of the more obvious tactics travellers would use to get from A to B.  Similar bubbles from Singapore to Hong Kong are in development and UK nationals are now singing their hearts out with travel to the Canary Islands now permitted. And more than one million people were processed through TSA security points on Sunday the 18th October which is a positive trend over recent weeks.

Forward looking capacity remains optimistic given that we have seen a steady trend over the last month of capacity falling by around a million seats a week but at some point the tide has to turn, doesn’t it?

The three largest capacity regions all reported week on week reductions all seeing around half a million fewer seats on sale this week. Western Europe is now creeping backwards to just over 40% of capacity on sale in January and with IAG’s recently announced capacity cuts yet to be reflected in the data the chances are that it will fall below that point by the end of November. The regional bright spot continues to be South Asia where more capacity has been introduced in both India and Bangladesh and if that capacity can stick in the market it will obviously be a welcome development.

Scheduled Capacity, Top 10 Countries Markets

Source: OAG

Let’s hope Delta Air Lines hadn’t planned a campaign about last week’s news that they were the largest airline in the world; they’ve lost that position already to China Southern and have slipped back to third place with American Airlines in second. The top ten airlines look pretty settled now with some “distance” to eleventh placed Shenzhen Airlines. Ryanair may well fall out of the grouping once their latest round of capacity cuts have been reflected in the database.

Scheduled Capacity Top 10 Airlines 

Source: OAG

And of course, we are now in the initial stage of the IATA winter season for those of you in the dark about such things. Last winter there were some 2.242 billion scheduled seats operated, this winter we currently have some 1.762 billion loaded for sale; a 22% reduction in capacity. If we managed to keep the current capacity level that would be quite some achievement from where we are today, more realistically we could yet see nearly half a billion seats removed in the next five months.