An encouraging week for many airlines - then a bubble burst and an outbreak occurs!
07/09/2021|4:59:02 PM|OAG

Covid-19 continues to be as stubborn as the Ukrainian defence looked for 3 minutes and 44 seconds on Saturday  night! 

This week’s data highlights once again just how frustrating and different every market is in their recovery journey with some notable ups and downs taking place. The headline data looks encouraging, another 3.1 million more seats operating than last week. 4.1% growth week on week and global capacity now at 78.6 million. For context that is “only” 40 million fewer than the same week in 2019 although some 29 million ahead of the same week last year so that is positive. 

In line with continued lockdowns and confusion over travel requirements a further 8 million seats have been removed by airlines for sale during the rest of July and a further 6.7 million for August. The chances of saving the summer for the airline industry have all but disappeared. Major markets remain closed; Independence Day in the US may have been celebrated but independence to travel remains off the agenda. In January 2020 around 60% of all seats were operated on domestic services, this week nearly three-quarters of all seats will be operated domestic flights; 57.7 million domestic seats and staycations for the lucky few.

North East Asia is once again the largest regional market with an additional 1.4 million seats added back week on week, all of which are in China as airlines add more capacity ahead of the peak summer season. North America continues the consistent pattern of growth that we have seen over the last few months with some 580,000 more seats added back and 90% of those are once again in the United States; you just have to wonder how close to a full recovery this market would be if they allowed qualifying foreign passport holders back into the country.

Despite the roller coaster of a recovery there is a clear trend of capacity growth around the globe despite the continued lockdowns in some major country markets and the most recent Covid-19 spikes. In the coming weeks we may see a bit more capacity added in some markets such as the UK where it seems every airline is currently planning more capacity from the 19th July for some reason; that will be good news for many. And yet at the same time airlines are planning for some 2.1 million seats between Western Europe and the United States in August compared to just 1.6 million in July; a 30% increase; is that realistic or just living in hope?

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