European aviation: capacity recovery shows itself once more - but cheaper prices says O'Leary

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EUROCONTROL's base scenario for flight numbers published in Oct-2021 was borne out in Nov-2021.

Then came the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and a consequent increase in travel restrictions. Europe's flight numbers fell towards EUROCONTROL's low scenario in Nov-2021, Dec-2021 and Jan-2022.

Seat capacity and flight numbers do not map each other precisely - capacity has typically fallen further from pre-pandemic levels - but they track each other up and down quite closely. After an Omicron-driven slump in European capacity in recent weeks, there has been an uptick in the trend.

Europe's seat numbers are 36.3% below 2019 levels in the week of 31-Jan-2022.

This is 4.2ppts better than a week ago - the first improvement in a month - and lifts Europe off the bottom of the regional ranking, now replaced by Asia Pacific, where capacity is down by 40.2%.

Africa capacity is down by 28.7%, the Middle East by 28.4%, Latin America by 17.1%, and North America by 12.9%.

EUROCONTROL's base outlook implies improvement in Feb-2022 and Mar-2022. If born out, this could lead to increases in current seat capacity projections of 67% of 2019 levels in Feb-2022 and 77% in Mar-2022.

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