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European airline capacity falls again, but optimism grows

Premium Analysis

According to the WHO, the number of COVID-19 cases in Europe fell in the week starting 9-Nov-2020. The total was still 5.5 times higher than only two months earlier, but this was the first decline since Jul-2020. This could be seen as evidence that the tighter lockdown restrictions imposed in much of Europe in recent weeks are working.

For the moment, however, European aviation continues to shrink capacity faster than elsewhere in the world.

Europe's year-on-year cut in seat capacity widened to -73.0% in the week of 16-Nov-2020 – its biggest cut since Jun-2020, and 12.3ppts below the Middle East on -60.7%. Africa is on -57.1%, Latin America -49.9%, North America -46.7% and Asia Pacific is on -38.6%.

Capacity in Europe for the whole month of Nov-2020 derived from airline schedules is now projected at 30% of 2019 levels – the third month in a row with a lower percentage of 2019.

Nevertheless, falling COVID-19 numbers could herald some relaxing of restrictions in Europe in the coming weeks. Moreover, recent news of a second highly efficacious vaccine in the pipeline adds to a growing sense of optimism.

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