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COVID-19: South Korea airline capacity steadies as virus spread slows: CAPA update 31-Mar-2020

Welcome to the latest edition of CAPA’s daily Coronavirus and Aviation global update. We offer this product to our active CAPA Members, as well as visitors to our website to help our industry navigate through this crisis.

The report contains a small selection of news briefs and CAPA commentary, on the US system and from each region.

Top news headlines:

- South Korea airline capacity steadies as virus spread slows

- Can the US slow the rate of increase in cases? The numbers suggest not. The US has experienced the fastest 25 day rate of infection of any country

- Airbus to pause majority of production in Spain until 09-Apr-2020 in COVID-19 environment;

- China: CAAC: International capacity at 1.2% of pre coronavirus level.

Following the aviation summaries, the report contains the latest coronavirus data, globally and by country.

- Over three quarters of a million cases now confirmed around the world;

- While still significantly high, the daily COVID-19 cases increase is slowing. 

Aviation & Travel Industry coronavirus news updates

Air Capacity Update: South Korea capacity levels out as virus spread slows 

South Korea was one of the first countries outside China to be hit by COVID-19 and very quickly went into battle against the virus by implementing pre-planned quarantine measures and as a result domestic and international capacity dropped by approximately 75%. This impressive action has resulted in weeks of minimal increase to the confirmed cases in the country. As a result it appears some confidence is already returning.  

While the below capacity increase will no doubt change to a more gradual growth, there has been a slight uptick in the available seats highlighting an expectation that the worst has passed.  

South Korea seat capacity: w/c 30-Mar-2020

The above is an example of future planned air capacity, available to CAPA Members from CAPA’s country profiles. For more information about CAPA Membership, please click here.Aviation & Travel Industry news updates

1. Global

Airbus to pause majority of production in Spain until 09-Apr-2020 in COVID-19 environment

Airbus announced (30-Mar-2020) it will to pause the majority of production in Spain until 09-Apr-2020 due to new measures introduced on 29-Mar-2020 to combat the spread of COVID-19. Some key activities in the company's Commercial Aircraft, Helicopters and Defence and Space businesses remain essential.
 
Minimum activity in these areas for necessary support functions such as Security, IT, Engineering will remain under the stringent health and safety measures. All other activities in Commercial Aircraft, Defence and Space as well as Helicopters in Spain will be paused until 09-Apr-2020, the date when it is foreseen that restrictions will be lifted. [more - original PR]

2. Asia

China: CAAC: International capacity at 1.2% of pre coronavirus level 

CAAC stated (30-Mar-2020) that although the number of international frequencies to China will decline, the number of countries with which China is connected will be maintained at a "necessary level".

For the week from 29-Mar-2020 to 04-Apr-2020, China's international frequencies will reduce by 85.3% to 108, which is equivalent to 1.2% of capacity prior to the coronavirus outbreak. [more - original PR - Chinese]

South Korea: Asiana Airlines to cease all Chinese services except Seoul Incheon-Changchun

Asiana Airlines plans to cease all Chinese services except Seoul Incheon-Changchun, effective Apr-2020 (Money Today News/News Tomato, 30-Mar-2020). This follows the CAAC's decision to restrict all foreign airlines to operating one weekly service to China, as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus.

Australia/New Zealand: Air New Zealand to reduce workforce by 3500, plans to be a mostly domestic airline

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran reported (31-Mar-2020) plans to reduce its workforce by 3500 "in coming months" with no areas immune "whether it is our most senior leaders through to our new joiners". Mr Foran reported the airline will be "at least 30 per cent smaller than we are today" and the carrier will emerge from coronavirus as a "much smaller airline" which may take "years the get back to its former size".
Mr Foran stated the carrier is "planning to be a domestic airline with limited international services to keep supply lines open for the foreseeable future". Air New Zealand has negotiated a loan with New Zealand's Government and expects the airline will begin to draw on that "within months because our outgoings are so high". [more - original PR]

3. Middle East:

flydubai to reduce staff salary for three months due to coronavirus

flydubai stated it plans to reduce its employees' salaries for three months from Apr-2020 due to the business impact of the coronavirus outbreak (Reuters, 31-Mar-2020). flydubai stated the decision "has not been taken lightly" and is intended to "offer some stability at a time of uncertainty" and "minimise the impact on all its employees".

As previously reported by CAPA, other UAE carriers, such as Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways, have also implemented salary cuts as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

4. Europe:

easyJet grounds entire fleet in response to coronavirus

easyJet announced (30-Mar-2020) it has now grounded its entire fleet in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns in numerous European countries.
 
The LCC operated its final repatriation service on 29-Mar-2020 and has returned home more than 45,000 passengers in the past few days. easyJet stated there is "no certainty" as to when it will be able to resume commercial operations and that it will continue to monitor the situation based on regulations and demand. [more - original PR]

5. North America:

Prime Minister Trudeau announces Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for companies 'both big and small'

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, via his official Twitter account, announced (31-Mar-2020) the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, whereby the government will "subsidise up to 75% of wages" for businesses which have experienced a decrease in revenue "by at least 30% because of COVID-19".
 
This subsidy will "apply to non profit organisations and charities, as well as companies both big and small" he said, adding the number of employees "will not determine whether or not you get this support". Specifically, the government "will cover up to 75%" of an affected employees wage on the first CAD58,700 (USD41,368.76) earned, and this will backdate to 15-Mar-2020. Additionally, Mr Trudeau explained the government is offering "easy, guaranteed loans for businesses of all sizes", as this will allow "people who need it" to "access credit".

6. Latin America:

BNDES to finalise details on the assistance package for the Brazilian aviation industry

ABEAR, via its official LinkedIn account, announced (30-Mar-2020) Brazil's Development Bank (BNDES) has still not detailed the content of the draft proposal to assist the Brazilian aviation industry, "but ensured that the mobility sector will be dealt as a priority during the coronavirus crisis".
 
As previously reported by CAPA, BNDES plans to have the proposal finalised and the assistance made available still in Apr-2020.

7. Africa

Ethiopian Airlines suspends services to more than 80 destinations

Ethiopian Airlines, via its official Facebook and Twitter accounts, announced (30-Mar-2020) it suspended services to more than 80 destinations, as of 29-Mar-2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
The airline continues to operate domestic services, but it reported domestic demand has declined by 50%. The carrier temporarily closed all ticket offices in Ethiopia on 30-Mar-2020. Ethiopian Airlines continues to serve all cargo destinations.
 

The above is a selection of more than 150 news updates today specifically on COVID-19, from today’s CAPA Membership coverage, which also covers traffic data, route and frequency announcements, government advisories and more. For more information about CAPA Membership, please click here.

Additional Analysis (please click on the headings to go to the full story)

As COVID-19 coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the global aviation and travel industries, Canada’s airlines are joining their counterparts worldwide in significantly pulling down their operations.  

Passenger operations at the company’s largest airline, Air Canada, are essentially coming to a standstill, and other Canadian airlines have also been forced to cut the bulk of their operations.

As is the case in other regions around the world, it is unpredictable how the Canadian aviation industry will have changed once the COVID-19 crisis is over, but it is likely that not all current operators will survive. 

COVID-19: SIA Group the big winner in Asia-Pac airline bailouts

With aviation and travel featuring very high on its government agenda, Singapore Airlines now looks well positioned to emerge from the coronavirus crisis as an industry leader. Other governments across the Asia Pacific region are taking steps to support the airline industry during the COVID-19 crisis, but in most cases the steps taken to date are timid and, so far, inadequate.

Some governments moved early to introduce packages based on waivers of fees and charges, and state-backed loans for airlines have also been offered. A handfulare following up these efforts with more direct forms of financial aid for carriers, with more being likely to follow.

Such steps can risk distorting the market, and generally it is not ideal for governments to be picking winners and losers in such a globally connected industry.

But the playbook has been thrown out of the window due to the sheer scale of the industry shock. Governments with the greatest appetite – and capability – to support their airlines could be a major factor in determining which carriers are in the strongest position when the pandemic eases.

Sometimes a blunt instrument is the best weapon available - regardless of the effect on the long term market profile.

Latin America’s largest aviation market, Brazil, is opting not to follow the lead of some governments in the region in completely shutting off their domestic air operations.

Instead, Brazil is offering a bare minimum of domestic service, and has emerged as one of the few governments in Latin America offering some sort of direct assistance to airlines. 

Even as Brazil’s domestic airspace remains open the capacity cuts by the nation’s airlines are stark, with Azul and GOL cutting their supply by 90% or more.

There is no way to predict accurately when the global aviation industry will return to normal, but Azul is holding a positive view that it could possibly be close to a full schedule in Jul-2020, in a current scenario where COVID-19 is a challenge for two to three months. 

There have been some dire predictions about the survivability of Latin Airlines after the COVID-19 crisis is over, but at this point in time Brazil’s major airlines seem reasonably well positioned to endure the fallout from the pandemic. However, that could quickly change, given the extremely fluid situation caused by the virus’ spread. 

The above is a selection of in-depth insights on the latest developments in the aviation and travel industry related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
CAPA Membership includes a range of reports featuring accurate data and independent commentary from our global team of analysts, who offer a unique perspective and actionable insights to help improve decision making. For more information about CAPA Membership, please click here.

Coronavirus Situation Report

Over three quarters of a million cases now confirmed around the world

200 countries are now affected

While still significantly high, the daily COVID-19 cases increase is slowing:
Cases by day (31-Mar-2020)

Confirmed COVID-19 cases by day, excluding China (31-Mar-2020)

USA daily cases increase consistently above 10%:
Top ten locations for COVID-19 (31-Mar-2020)

Can the US slow the rate of increase in cases? The numbers suggest not

Top ten highest increases in infections by location (31-Mar-2020)

Global cumulative cases (31-Mar-2020)

Global mortality rate (yellow line) vs. key locations mortality rate (31-Mar-2020) 

Spread of virus is proving difficult to manage

The growth rate of the COVID-19 virus has differed greatly between countries depending on the measures in place to combat the spread.

Aggressive containment in countries like Japan and Singapore has slowed the pace of spread of the virus.

The comparison below shows the growth rate per selected country once each has reached 100 cases - so there are different start dates e.g. that threshold was reached first for Japan, so that country was 27 days in.

The US has experienced the fastest 25 day rate of infection of any country

Daily increase in COVID-19 cases, selected countries : Day 1 = 100 case threshold

Aggressive containment appears to slow the growth rate (daily counting starts once the country reaches 100 cases)

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