CAPA: 74% recovery in domestic Australia capacity by end-2020 - UPDATE


Based on a combination of analysis of government statements, airline projections and underlying demand, CAPA's Air Capacity Model projects a phased recovery in domestic air capacity in Australia through the remainder of 2020. CAPA projects domestic capacity to reach 55% of 2019 levels by the October school holidays and 74% by mid-December 2020.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison in May foreshadowed a return to intra-state travel under the Federal Government's three phase plan to ease coronavirus restrictions. The plan, designed to revive the domestic economy, leaves the timing for the re-establishment of travel to the states.

CAPA - Centre for Aviation (CAPA), the world's most trusted source of market intelligence for the aviation and travel industry, is pleased to announce the launch of its Air Capacity Model supported by OAG, developed to provide the aviation and travel industry with a robust and granular guide for future air capacity projection.

  • CAPA's Air Capacity Model projects a phased recovery in domestic air capacity in Australia, reaching 55% of 2019 levels by October and 74% by mid-December 2020.
  • The Australian government's three-phase plan to ease coronavirus restrictions includes a return to intra-state travel, with the timing left to the states.
  • CAPA's Air Capacity Model combines analysis of government statements, airline projections, and underlying demand to provide robust and granular air capacity projections.
  • International air capacity is projected to remain significantly reduced, with seat numbers down by 93% in June, 82% in October, and 80% in December 2020.
  • The potential trans Tasman 'bubble' with New Zealand has been factored into the CAPA Model from August 2020, potentially influencing international capacity growth projections.
  • The CAPA Air Capacity Model utilizes phased air capacity resumption scenarios, ranging from zero/grounded to standard commercial operations, to build the overall capacity picture.

CAPA's Australia Air Capacity Model

CAPA's Air Capacity Model applies a granular build of data, combining analysis of government statements, airline projections and underlying demand.

For Australia domestic operations the Model projects a slow, phased recovery in domestic airline capacity through the remainder of 2020, reaching 37% of last year's volume by early Jul-2020.

CAPA Air Capacity Model projections for Australian domestic and international seat capacity: 2020

The CAPA Air Capacity Models provide an effective breakdown of each nation's domestic and international outlook for seat capacity powered by OAG - as well as each city and route pair - based on the 2019 actuals. Combined with for government statements, airline network announcements and capacity projections it provides a robust and granular guide for future air capacity projection, anchored in:

  • Actual baseline capacity data, drawn from OAG airline schedules and aircraft configuration data in the CAPA Fleet database;
  • Decisions and announcements by the Prime Minister and State Premiers on travel restrictions and border announcements;
  • Assessments by CAPA, based on real time reports from CAPA's unique daily news system which collects over 300 stories every day:
    • Airline route plans and pricing;
    • The public's willingness and propensity to fly;
    • The introduction of standard criteria on sanitary conditions onboard aircraft and at airports;
    • 'Right-sizing' of aircraft to match demand.
  • The airline capacity projections are updated in real time, as major new events occur (made possible using CAPA's unique daily news gathering capability, with 300-400 stories daily)

CAPA will monitor industry updates and constantly update the Model.

CAPA Chairman Emeritus, Peter Harbison said:

"Australia is one of the best positioned countries globally to suppress the first wave of COVID-19 infection. If this continues and we avoid a second outbreak, the Australian domestic air market could see some signs of life by mid-year and a steady improvement by Christmas-2020. However, we don't expect to see 2019 levels of domestic flying reached again this year. International will be hit harder and potentially take multiple years to recover. However this will be to the benefit of the domestic market - potentially also embracing trans Tasman operations".

International markets are unlikely to recover quickly and the CAPA Air Capacity Model sees international air capacity (seat numbers) still down by 93% this month, -82% in Oct-2020 and -80% in Dec-2020.

The potential trans Tasman 'bubble' with New Zealand has been factored into the CAPA Model from Aug-2020, with some Pacific Islands linkages in time for the Christmas/New Year holidays. These "bubble" effects may influence "international" capacity growth projections.

About CAPA's 'Air Capacity Model'

The CAPA Model utilises the following phased air capacity resumption scenarios.

It is an interactive, excel-based model that allows users to then view the assumptions around the resumption of travel in domestic (state-based) and international markets, to build the overall capacity picture. These assumptions can be augmented by CAPA's regular data feeds.

CAPA Air Capacity Model - capacity resumption phasing assumptions



Capacity (% of 'Normal' = 2019)





Travel bans resulting in grounding of entire aircraft fleet




Airlines are providing a basic 'skeletal' passenger network whether by their own volition or under some form of government/state subsidy, eg for:

  • Emergency travel
  • Foreign nationals' repatriation


Commercial Resumption A - 'Acutely Restricted'


Airlines are resuming 'Acutely Restricted' commercial operations, to eg cater for:

  • Mission-critical business travel
  • Acute VFR (long-stay)
  • Highly-motivated Leisure travel (ie attracted by stimulatory ultra-low fares; not deterred by virus concerns)


Commercial Resumption B - 'Basic'


Airlines are operating 'Basic' commercial operations, to eg cater for:

  • Essential Business travel
  • Motivated VFR/Student travel (long stay)
  • Motivated Leisure travel (ie convinced by sanitary precautions through the travel journey)


Commercial Resumption C - 'Constrained'


Airlines are operating 'Constrained' commercial operations, to eg cater for:

  • Modest Business travel
  • Expanded VFR/Student travel
  • Expanded Leisure travel


Commercial Resumption D - 'Standard'


Airlines are operating 'Standard' or normalised commercial operations, to eg cater for regularised:

  • Regular Business travel
  • VFR
  • Regular Leisure travel

The CAPA 'Air Capacity Model' is available by 12-months subscription, providing a monthly excel file* with Input (assumptions) and Output tabs. The Output tab offers a total market graphic, as well as airport and route data summary tables.

Live demonstrations of the new model are available by request by completing your details here or contacting membership@centreforaviation.com


About  CAPA - Centre for Aviation

CAPA - Centre for Aviation (CAPA), part of Aviation Week Network, is the leading provider of independent aviation market intelligence, analysis and data services covering worldwide developments. Established in 1990, CAPA's platforms help the aviation sector and supplier businesses stay informed, remain connected to industry leaders and fuel inspiration to drive change.

CAPA's global C-level and corporate travel summits are held in key aviation markets around the world, attracting executive level speakers, attendees and leading stakeholders of the global commercial aviation industry. Understanding aviation markets is our great strength and passion, along with providing CAPA members, clients and partners with an unparalleled level of expertise and insight.

For more information and details on membership and events, please visit centreforaviation.com

Aviation Week Network, the largest multimedia information and services provider for the global aviation, aerospace, and defence industries, serving 1.7 million professionals around the world, is part of Informa Markets, a division of Informa PLC.

About Informa Markets

Informa Markets creates platforms for industries and specialist markets to trade, innovate and grow. Our portfolio is comprised of more than 550 international B2B events and brands in markets including Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Infrastructure, Construction & Real Estate, Fashion & Apparel, Hospitality, Food & Beverage, and Health & Nutrition, among others.

We provide customers and partners around the globe with opportunities to engage, experience and do business through face-to-face exhibitions, specialist digital content and actionable data solutions. As the world's leading exhibitions organiser, we bring a diverse range of specialist markets to life, unlocking opportunities and helping them to thrive 365 days of the year. For more information, please visit informamarkets.com.

For more information, please visit  informamarkets.com.

For media enquiries please contact:

Daniella Baxter
Global Marketing Director
CAPA - Centre for Aviation
P: +61 2 9241 3200

Want More Analysis Like This?

CAPA Membership provides access to all news and analysis on the site, along with access to many areas of our comprehensive databases and toolsets.
Find Out More