Loading

Europe aviation: 3Q2022 will struggle to beat 2Q's 84% of 2019 seats

Analysis

Europe's seat capacity is at 86.4% in the week commencing 27-Jun-2022, which is a shortfall of -13.6% against the equivalent week in 2019. This is the sixth successive week in a narrow range, signalling a levelling-off of the capacity recovery towards 2019 levels.

Europe has slipped to fifth in the regional ranking, above only Asia Pacific, where capacity is down -23.1%. In the Middle East capacity is down -11.4%, while North America capacity is down -10.2%, Africa is down -6.5%, and Latin America -4.1%.

As 2Q2022 draws to a close, its seat numbers will end up at 84.3% of 2019 levels, continuing an improving trend over five successive quarters. Seat capacity for 3Q2022 is currently projected at 88.8%. Projections are now more stable and more realistic than at earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, further modest trimming of this peak summer quarter is likely, given staffing constraints. The final outcome for 3Q may not exceed 2Q's percentage by much – if at all.

Summary

  • Europe has 31.5 million seats this week, which is down -14% vs 36.5 million in the same week of 2019. Europe is fifth in the regional ranking on this measure.
  • Europe's 1Q2022 capacity was at 74% of 2019 levels, while 2Q2022 is at 84%. 3Q2022 is projected at 89%.
  • Capacity projections are now more stable and more realistic, although further trimming of 3Q2022 capacity seems likely.

Europe has 31.5 million seats vs 36.5 million this week in 2019 – down -14%

In the week commencing 27-Jun-2022, total European seat capacity is scheduled to be 31.5 million, according to OAG schedules and CAPA seat configurations.

This is -13.6% below the 36.5 million seats of the equivalent week of 2019, a fractional deterioration of just 0.1ppts from last week's -13.5% (week commencing 20-Jun-2022).

This is only 1.1 ppts below the level of -12.5% reached four weeks ago, which was Europe's strongest week on this measure since before the pandemic. However, it is the sixth successive week in a range between -12.5% and -14.4%.

This week's total seat capacity for Europe is split between 7.6 million domestic seats, versus 8.2 million in the equivalent week of 2019; and 23.9 million international seats, versus 28.3 million.

Europe's domestic seats are down -7.8% versus 2019, compared with last week's -5.9%.

International seat capacity is down -15.3% versus 2019, compared with last week's -15.7%.

Europe: percentage change in weekly airline seat capacity vs equivalent week of 2019, weeks of 06-Jan-2020 to 20-Jun-2022

 

Europe is now fifth in the regional ranking by capacity as percentage of 2019

This week (week of 27-Jun-2022) Europe has dropped from fourth to fifth place in the ranking of regions measured by seats as a percentage of 2019 levels.

With capacity down by -13.6%, Europe is 9.5ppts better than sixth placed Asia Pacific, where capacity is down by -23.1%.

However, it is now 2.2ppts below the Middle East, where seat count is down -11.4%. Capacity is down -10.2% in North America, -6.5% in Africa, and -4.1% in Latin America.

Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa have taken upward steps in the trend this week, whereas North American and Latin America have taken downward steps and Europe is broadly flat on last week.

Percentage change in passenger seat capacity vs 2019 by region, week of 30-Mar-2020 to week of 27-Jun-2022

 

Europe's 2Q2022 capacity is at 84% of 2019 levels, and 3Q2022 is projected at 89%

According to data from OAG and CAPA, Europe's capacity as a percentage of 2019 levels improved with each successive quarter of 2021. It was 27% in 1Q2021, 34% in 2Q2021, 64% in 3Q2021 and 71% in 4Q2021.

Capacity for 1Q2022 was 74% of 1Q2019 levels and 2Q2022 is at 84.3% of 2Q2019 levels.

Projections for 3Q2022 are at 88.8% of 3Q2019 seat numbers, down by 0.6ppts from the figure projected in the week of 20-Jun-2022.

Capacity projections are now more stable and more realistic

As CAPA has previously noted, schedules looking out over the next few months have become both more stable and a more realistic forecast of the seat capacity that will actually be deployed.

The capacity projection for 3Q2022 has been trimmed by 2.1ppts over the past month. This is the joint smallest reduction over the month before the start of a quarter since before the COVID-19 pandemic era (the same reduction took place over the month before the start of 3Q2021).

In the early quarters of the pandemic, capacity projections of seat capacity as a percentage of the equivalent quarter of 2019 were cut by double digit percentage points in the month leading up to the start of each quarter.

Capacity projections have also fallen from the start of the quarter to the final outcome throughout the pandemic, but the pattern has also generally been a narrowing one.

For 2Q2022, the decline in the projection was 3.4ppts from the start of the quarter to the end, compared with 7.0ppts for 1Q2022.

The decline was only 2.7ppts across 4Q2021, but all previous quarters in the pandemic era suffered much larger drops in capacity projections from the start to the end of the quarter. The broad trend to greater stability was only interrupted by 1Q2022, where capacity projections fell by 7.0ppts across the quarter, as a result of the Omicron wave of COVID-19.

Europe: projected seat capacity as a percentage of equivalent quarter of 2019 one month before quarter start and at quarter start, with final outcome, 2Q2020 to 3Q2022.

 

Further trimming of 3Q2022 capacity seems likely

CAPA has also observed that further trimming of the peak summer schedule, which falls in 3Q2022, is likely as a result of staffing and recruitment challenges.

See related CAPA report: Europe: aviation capacity recovery to remain on a plateau through peak summer

Current projections for 3Q2022 to be 89% of 2019 levels compare with the fairly steady level of around 86% to 87% in the past six weeks.

In absolute terms, Europe's weekly seat capacity should continue to rise into the seasonal peak from late July to early September. However, as a percentage of the equivalent period of 2019, the recovery may not exceed the 86% to 87% range of recent weeks. The final outcome for 3Q2022 may be slightly higher than 2Q's 84.3%, but not by very much.

This suggests a further decline in 3Q2022 seat numbers as a percentage of 3Q2019 of 2-3ppts by the end of the quarter. This would be broadly similar to the two most stable quarters since the start of the pandemic.

The recovery in Europe's capacity towards 2019 levels is losing momentum while staffing problems are addressed, but greater stability is returning to the schedules.

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