Chaotic, challenging and constantly changing international travel rules and regulations continue to confound the global travel industry. This means that airlines are currently dealing with a strange combination of factors. Currently consumer demand is strong and some countries are pushing for re-opening travel links, however these gains are being offset by other countries which are content to remain closed. In this ever-shifting environment, the OAG has recently updated their airline capacity and frequency statistics for global flights.
So we breakdown what’s going on in the world.
Every region saw airline capacity grow in the last month. Collectively carriers added 64m seats compared to June 2021, although some of that effect is due to the additional day in July. Global capacity is now 30.5% below the same month in 2019.
South East Asia is furthest behind 2019, with capacity still sitting at over 62% below the 2019 level as countries across the region struggle with re-opening, vaccination roll out and determining what degree of COVlD cases they can accept going forward. Southern Africa is not far behind, with capacity still 55% below 2019 levels, as the region batt les another wave of COVID and associated restrictions on travel.
At the other end of the scale, North America has reached a capacity level just 20% below July 2019, and is approaching the degree of recovery taking place in North East Asia where steady growth in China’s domestic market is boosting capacity to just below 14% of July 2019 levels.
Europe has seen the biggest gains this month, with carriers across Europe adding 29m seats in response to demand for predominantly leisure travel within Europe.
The lessons from this data are clear. There is a strong demand for flights, but messy and uneven rules make international travel undesirable because it is still fraught with problems. And this demand is much stronger in regions that are doing better with the virus. This means airlines in large domestic markets like the US, China, and the EU are currently have an edge, but this could change based upon travel restrictions and how the regions handle COVID cases.