European airline capacity: Ryanair and Wizz Air to lead 4Q recovery

Premium Analysis

Average airline seat capacity in 4Q2021 is projected at 72% of 4Q2019 levels, versus 64% in 3Q2021, based on OAG schedules and seat configurations from the CAPA Fleet Database.

Total seat numbers for Europe in the week of 8-Nov-2021 are down by 27.2% versus 2019 levels (i.e. they are at 72.8% of the equivalent week of 2019). This has slipped from a post-crisis peak of -24.6% two weeks ago (week of 25-Oct-2021), but is materially better than the 12 weeks in the range of -33% to -35% before the start of the winter season.

Europe remains fourth in the regional capacity recovery ranking. Below Europe are Asia Pacific, where capacity is down by 43.7% and the Middle East, down by 33.6%. Ahead of Europe are Africa, down by 25.3%; Latin America, down by 16.9%; and North America, down by 16.1%.

The 72% average projection for Europe in 4Q2021 disguises a wide range among the continent's leading airline groups.

At the higher end are the two leading ultra-LCCs, whose schedules are almost touching pre-crisis capacity levels: Ryanair (99% projected) and Wizz Air (95%).

At the lower end are Lufthansa group (59%), easyJet and IAG (both 65%).

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