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European aviation: winter capacity slide to get worse

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The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) expects Europe's airline seat capacity to fall more heavily in 1Q2021 than in 4Q2020. Moreover, it forecasts capacity declines in Europe by more than world averages in both 1Q2021 and 2Q2021.

This outlook is supported by schedules data from OAG combined with CAPA Fleet Database seat configurations. Europe's capacity in the week commencing 18-Jan-2021 is down by 73.5% from 2019 levels, a much bigger fall than other world regions. Middle East capacity is down by 57.3%, Africa by 49.9%, North America by 47.3%, Latin America by 40.3%, and Asia Pacific by 40.1%.

Europe's capacity decline has widened from 70.9% last week. For Jan-2021 as a whole, current schedules indicate a slide to -70%, from -68% in Dec-2020.

The slide may not stop there. IATA reported deteriorating global forward bookings in 1Q2021 from 4Q2020, based on data at the start of the quarter. The UK's recent banning of South/Central America travel and suspension of all travel corridors will add to downward pressure on European airlines schedules and the capacity outlook.

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