Europe: international-led airline recovery pauses as COVID cases rise

Premium Analysis

Europe's capacity recovery, expressed as the percentage change in weekly seats from the equivalent week of 2019, is enjoying its fourth best week since before the pandemic.

However, each of the previous three weeks was better.

Seat numbers for Europe in the week of 15-Nov-2021 are down by 28.1% versus 2019. This has slipped in successive weeks from a post-crisis peak of -24.6% in late Oct-2021.

Europe remains fourth in the regional capacity recovery ranking. Below Europe are Asia Pacific, where capacity is down by 41.6%, and the Middle East, down by 32.4%. Ahead of Europe are Africa, down by 24.9%; Latin America, down by 15.9%; and North America, down by 15.7%.

Europe's recovery in summer 2021 was driven by a surge in international capacity.

In 2019 international seats were 76% of Europe's total capacity (versus 34% for Asia Pacific and 25% for North America), but this fell to 51% in May-2020. It rose to 71% in Oct-2021, but has slipped back to 69% in Nov-2021 as coronavirus cases have climbed.

Europe's aviation capacity recovery is likely to remain at best on hold until COVID case numbers start to fall again.

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