Europe aviation: schedules are firmer, but capacity recovery slows
CAPA analysis of quarterly capacity projections shows schedules for Europe are much firmer than at any other time in the COVID-19 era. Moreover, projections for 4Q2022 are higher than one month ago.
No previous COVID-era quarter has enjoyed an increase to capacity projections from a month out to the quarter's start. The pattern had been a consistent one of cuts.
Europe's total seat capacity is at 85.9% in the week commencing 26-Sep-2022, a shortfall of 14.1% against the equivalent week 2019. Europe remains fifth in the regional ranking, above Asia Pacific, where capacity is down by 22.6% versus 2019, but below the Middle East, where capacity is down by 12.0%. Africa capacity is down by 8.5%, North America by 7.1%, and Latin America is down by 4.5%.
Europe's capacity as a percentage of 2019 levels has hardly shifted since late May-2022. In spite of positive developments in 4Q2022, it could end up similar to the 87% achieved in 3Q2022.
After 74% in 1Q and 84% in 2Q, Europe's capacity recovery has lost momentum through 2022.
- Europe has 30.6 million seats this week, which is down 14% vs 35.6 million in the same week of 2019. Europe is fourth in the regional ranking on this measure.
- Europe's 1Q2022 capacity was at 74% of 2019 levels, 2Q2022 at 84% and 3Q2022 at 87%. 4Q2022 is projected to be at 87%.
- Schedules are now much firmer than at any other time in the COVID-19 era.
- Capacity projected for 4Q2022 as the quarter starts is higher than it was a month ago – the first COVID-era quarter where this has happened.
Europe has 30.6 million seats vs 35.6 million this week in 2019 – down 14%
In the week commencing 26-Sep-2022 total European seat capacity is scheduled to be 30.6 million, according to OAG schedules and CAPA seat configurations.
This is 14.1% below the 35.6 million seats of the equivalent week of 2019, and a deterioration of 0.1ppts from last week's -14.0%. This is the fifth successive week of modest decline after Europe reached a pandemic era peak of -11.4% in late Aug-2022. It keeps Europe's recovery broadly in the same range as it has occupied since late May-2022.
This week's total seat capacity for Europe is split between 7.5 million domestic seats, versus 8.2 million in the equivalent week of 2019; and 23.0 million international seats, versus 27.4 million.
Europe's domestic seats are down by 7.7% versus 2019, compared with last week's -7.5%.
International seat capacity is down by 16.0% versus 2019, unchanged from last week.
Europe: percentage change in weekly airline seat capacity vs equivalent week of 2019, weeks of 06-Jan-2020 to 26-Sep-2022
Europe remains fifth in the regional ranking by capacity as percentage of 2019's
Europe stays in fifth place in the ranking of regions measured by seats as a percentage of 2019 levels this week.
With capacity down by 14.1%, Europe is 8.4ppts better than sixth placed Asia Pacific, where capacity is down by 22.6%, but 2.1ppts below the Middle East, where seat count is down by 12.0%. Capacity is down by 8.5% in Africa, by 7.1% in North America, and by 4.5% in Latin America.
Percentage change in passenger seat capacity vs 2019 by region, week of 30-Mar-2020 to week of 26-Sep-2022
Europe's 3Q2022 ended up at 87%...
It was 27% in 1Q2021, 34% in 2Q2021, 64% in 3Q2021 and 71% in 4Q2021.
The improvement is continuing in 2022 so far. Capacity for 1Q2022 was 74% of 1Q2019 levels and 2Q2022 was at 84% of 2Q2019 levels.
The final outturn for 3Q2022 is 86.8% of 3Q2019 seat numbers.
…and 4Q2022 is projected at 87%
Looking ahead to 4Q2022, the projection is 86.9% – almost the same as 87.0% last week.
The Oct-2022 capacity projection is now at 87.2%, having been as high as 90.8% in the final week of Aug-2022.
Nov-2022 is at 87.1% and Dec-2022 at 88.0%, with both months having a fractional increase in the projection since last week.
Schedules are now much firmer than at any other time in the COVID-19 era
The outturn of 86.8% for 3Q2022 meant that this metric fell by only 2.0ppts from the projection one month before the start of the quarter.
This is the smallest decline for any quarter during the COVID-19 era, indicating that schedules are becoming much firmer.
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 4Q2022
Capacity projected for 4Q2022 is now higher than it was a month ago
For 4Q2022, the current projection of 86.9% at the start of the quarter (it begins during the current week) is higher than the projection one month before the start.
The increase is only modest – 0.6ppts – and projections have fluctuated quite a bit over that month, but this is the first time during the COVID-19 era that the projection has increased from a month before to the start of the quarter.
The current projection for 4Q2022 is almost identical to the outturn for 3Q2022.
If projections continue to grow, the final quarter of the year could end up at a materially higher percentage of 2019 capacity than 3Q's level of 86.8%.
But Europe's capacity recovery has lost momentum through 2022
However, economic uncertainties and operational challenges mean that cuts to 4Q schedules cannot be ruled out.
The increasing stability of schedules suggests that 4Q is unlikely to differ from 3Q by more than a low single digit number of percentage points, in either direction.
Whatever the final outturn, this highlights the slowing momentum in Europe's capacity recovery as a percentage of 2019 levels.