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European airline capacity: a wider 'U'. Global COVID-19 standards key

Premium Analysis

Total airline seat numbers in Europe have dropped by 87.1% year-on-year in the week commencing 4-May-2020, according to schedules from OAG combined with CAPA Fleet Database seat configurations.

This is very fractionally worse than the past week's 86.8% decline, when it had actually eased a little for the first time in the coronavirus crisis. Essentially, the data indicate that European airline capacity is bumping along the bottom.

Europe's cuts are no longer the deepest among world regions. Seat count in Latin America this week has dropped by 87.3%, which is very slightly worse than Europe. Seat count has been reduced by 79.3% in Middle East, 79.4% in North America, 77.4% in Africa and 'only' 56.7% in Asia Pacific.

The capacity recovery anticipated by schedules data continues to slip further into the future, with a wider U shape. This process is likely to continue.

Meanwhile, standards on social distancing and other measures necessary to ensure the safety of air travel from contagion are still a long way off. Without global coordination in this area, any easing of lockdowns and travel restrictions will have little or no positive impact on the demand for flights.

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