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European airline capacity: the deepest cuts slow. Now, what next?

Premium Analysis

Europe's airline capacity cut this week (commencing 20-Apr-2020) is again deeper than in any other region.

Total seat numbers in Europe have fallen by 90% year-on-year, according to schedules data from OAG combined with CAPA Fleet Database seat configurations. This compares with an 86.0% cut in Latin America, 75.7% in Africa, 74.2% in Middle East, 69.6% in North America and 61.3% in Asia Pacific.

Europe's domestic seats have been reduced by 83%; international by 93% (international is more important, accounting for 77% of seats in the year ago week).

The capacity derived from schedules data is now better aligned with empirical data on air traffic than previously during the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, there are signs that Europe's rate of capacity decline is bottoming out.

However, the expected return of scheduled seat numbers to within 5% of 2019 levels has been pushed back from Jun-2020 to Sep-2020. Even this may prove to be optimistic, as long as the travel restrictions covering most of the planet are still in place. European airline capacity may have more weeks to spend at, or near, the bottom.

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