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Global capacity increases again in Dec-2010; 40% growth since Dec-2001

21-Dec-2010

Global airline capacity increased again in Dec-2010 with a 6% increase in the total number of seats and a 5% increase in frequencies. Worldwide, there are 311.7 million scheduled seats available in Dec-2010 - an addition of 16.9 million seats from Dec-2009 levels, according to OAG. Some 114,945 additional flights will operate, for a total of 2.5 million in the month.

Recent incremental improvements in the global economy are having a noticeable impact on passenger demand for travel, with positive growth in all regions of the world, with the exception of travel to/from the Americas. UBM Aviation CEO Peter von Moltke commented: “Passenger confidence is growing, along with the economy, and while some regions’ growth, like the Americas and Europe, are mirroring the modest improvements in the economic environment, many are growing at a striking rate. Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East all continue to show a large appetite for air travel”.

See related report: Economy traffic back on track, premium still lagging

OAG capacity and frequency for Dec-2010

Region

Capacity  growth

Seat capacity (mill)

Frequency growth

Flights

Within Asia

+8%

92.8

+8%

611,360

Within North America

+2%

76

+1%

824,475

Within Europe

+5%

63.7

+4%

522,828

To/from Europe

+11%

23.7

+11%

104,894

Within Central and South America

+7%

22.7

+8%

218,062

To/from North America

+3%

17

Stable

84,892

To/from Asia

+12%

15

+13%

62,203

To/from Middle East

+13%

11.7

+12%

54,205

To/from Central and South America

-2%

9.8

-4%

59,220

To/from Africa

+11%

Almost 8

+11%

40,542

Within Middle East

+6%

Just over 7

+7%

46,384

Within Africa

+7%

6.9

+11%

68,229

Global

+6%

311.7

+5%

2.5 million

Double-digit increases were experienced in capacity to/from Africa (11%), Asia (12%) and the Middle East (13%). All of these regions have seen growth in the number of scheduled seats for ten consecutive years.

A hub analysis shows that Delhi has seen an impressive 22% year-on-year increase in the number of seats and 20% increase in flights this month. This comes as a result of the opening of the new Terminal 3 facility at the airport and concerted efforts of Air India, and other national carriers to develop a hub operation. Most European hubs have also seen positive growth in capacity, including Berlin Tegel and Copenhagen both increasing 13%, Barcelona by 11% and Amsterdam by 10%, while Athens lost 11% in seat capacity.

40% capacity growth over past decade

Over the last ten years, the number of worldwide available seats has increased 40%, while the number of flights has increased 24%. Growth has been particularly strong within Asia, to/from Asia, to/from the Middle East and to/from Africa.

Regional performances over the past decade include a 130% increase in capacity and a 140% increase in frequencies to/from Africa and increases of 176% in capacity and 188% in frequencies to/from the Middle East. Travel to/from Asia Pacific increased 88% in capacity and 109% in frequency. Travel to/from Europe has seen a 72% increase in capacity and an 82% increase in frequency.  Although Europe’s growth during the past decade is not as impressive as other regions of the world, it has been strong nevertheless.

OAG capacity and frequency: Dec-2010 vs Dec-2001

Region

Capacity growth

Frequency growth

Within Asia

80%

77%

Within North America

-3%

-3%

Within Europe

49%

23%

To/from Europe

72%

82%

Within Central and South America

29%

10%

To/from North America

32%

28%

To/from Asia

88%

109%

To/from Middle East

176%

188%

To/from Central and South America

37%

28%

To/from Africa

130%

140%

Within Middle East

89%

97%

Within Africa

55%

44%

Global

40%

24%

OAG capacity and frequency on key routes: Dec-2010 vs Dec-2001

Region

Capacity growth

Frequency growth

Western Europe to/from Asia

   

     Beijing

15%

12%

     Hong Kong

11%

8%

     Shanghai

14%

15%

Western Europe to/from the Middle East

   

     Abu Dhabi

19%

11%

     Doha

16%

22%

     Dubai

11%

9%

Western Europe to/from Africa

   

     Cairo

12%

10%

     Johannesburg

9%

-3%

Strategic capacity additional required in 2011

As the OAG data highlights, supported by recent IATA and ACI traffic releases, the world’s airlines are adding capacity back into their systems after significant cutbacks throughout the global economic slowdown.

This has had a positive impact on load factors and fares, which have remained relatively strong in the economic recovery process. For this to be maintained however, airlines need to continue to “add capacity strategically and with prudence in mind”. This is particularly important with fuel prices likely to rise in 2010, according to UBM, which adds that recessionary factors are continuing to impact the industry, potentially “severely testing” air travel demand. 


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