European aviation: Ryanair & Wizz Air best placed for market reopening

Premium Analysis

After operating only 27% of 2019 seat capacity in 1Q2021, Europe's airlines are currently projecting further caution for Apr-2021, based on OAG schedules. Europe's seat count is down by 70.6% in the week of 29-Mar-2021, which marks the start of the summer season 2021.

As it has for almost six months, Europe still lags other regions. As new lockdowns and further spread of new strains of COVID-19 occurs, this is unlikely to change soon.

Middle East capacity is down by 52.6% versus 2019, Africa by 50.8%, Latin America by 46.4%, North America by 37.4%, and Asia Pacific by 30.1%.

However, a rapid bounceback for Europe to more than 50% of 2019 levels is projected for May-2021, rising to 77% to 78% in Jul-2021 and Aug-2021.

More than evidence of inked-in planning, this reflects a 'wait and see' stance by airlines towards the relaxing of international travel restrictions. There is some logic to maintaining plans until greater clarity emerges.

Not uncharacteristically, Ryanair is more confident and is planning more than 80% of pre-pandemic capacity for the summer peak, while Wizz Air's filed schedules reach 100% in Apr-2021.

Uneven vaccination roll-outs may hinder these plans, but Ryanair and Wizz Air are best prepared to take advantage of market reopening when it does happen.

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