China, US lead domestic airline regrowth. In Europe, it's LCCs


Chinese airlines are beginning to show significant increases in the number of domestic seats on offer as the domestic market starts to open up. China Southern and China Eastern are now offering more than 1.5 million seats per week each with other Chinese airlines also increasing their offer as people start to rethink their travel plans and venture out.

Southwest Airlines is the largest US operator, also with over 1.5 million weekly seats but a lot to do before they manage to regain the levels from pre-COVID-19 days.

Internationally there are now some signs of a few pockets of Europe starting to open up so Ryanair is back as the largest airline by international seat capacity, although still under 1 million seats per week, followed by Wizz Air.

Rankings are easily illustrated for CAPA Members, as this report describes below.

  • Chinese airlines are increasing domestic seat capacity as the domestic market starts to open up.
  • China Southern and China Eastern are offering over 1.5 million seats per week each.
  • Southwest Airlines remains the largest US operator, but with significantly reduced seat capacity compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
  • Ryanair is back as the largest international airline by seat capacity, followed by Wizz Air.
  • Domestic markets are showing signs of recovery, with Asia leading the way.
  • CAPA Members have access to custom rankings reports for airlines, airports, investors, alliances, and more.

Domestic Airline Rankings led by China

China dominates domestic markets around the world with five airlines all in the top 10 largest domestic carriers by seats. China Southern and China Eastern top the list with more than 1.5 million seats each for the week commencing 18-May-2020. Domestic markets are showing they will be the first to bounce back from the pandemic. China, having nearly washed through its infection rate is a clear example of this.

Southwest Airlines remains the largest domestic US operator this week with 1,526,228 million seats, however these figures are dramatically down from 2.9 million seats achieved in Apr-2020. American Airlines, which is traditionally the largest airline by number of domestic seats, is now in fifth place with just over 1.2 million seats. Both carriers' capacity has bottomed out and no further capacity cuts expected.

Apart from Southwest, American, Delta and United, the rest of the top 15 in terms of domestic seat numbers are all from Asia, reflecting the recovery from that part of the world with domestic operations being the first to slowly recover.

Domestic Airlines ranked by seats for the week commencing 18-May-2020

International Airline Rankings: led by three European low cost operations

After three weeks In Apr-2020 with a complete grounding of its entire fleet, Ryanair is back at the top of the world's largest airlines by international seat capacity. The gradual increase in capacity since the week commencing 20-Apr-2020 sees the carrier back in operation with 880,929 international seats in operation this week, an almost 70% decrease year-on-year. The airline is forecasting a small but steady climb up as further markets within Europe begin to open up.

Wizz Air, which held the top slot for a number of weeks, is now in 2nd place with 755,935. Wizz Air has managed to keep its capacity at high volumes throughout the pandemic, grounding aircraft for only a few weeks in April.

The remainder of the top 10 airlines originate in Europe or the Middle East, with carriers like Air Arabia, Gulf Air and Qatar Airways all proving effective international commitment.

International Airlines ranked by seats for the week commencing 18-May-2020

CAPA Members can access custom rankings reports for all airlines, airline groups, airports, investors, alliances, routes, countries and territories, regions, fleets, traffic, and tourism.

For more information on CAPA Membership please contact rlanser@centreforaviation

1. Login to your CAPA Member account and select the 'Data' tab at the top of the webpage

2. Click on the 'Network' drop-down box and select 'Rankings'

3. Use the 'Rankings for' drop-down box to select the category of interest and then apply custom filters for that category to narrow down your search.

4. Use the date tool to generate rankings tables for particular time periods. You can choose to see the data as a table or a graph.

5. Use the excel icon at the top right of the table to export your results.

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