Europe's air travel impetus was waning before Omicron

Premium Analysis

Based on current schedules, Europe's 4Q2021 capacity projection has stabilised at 71% of 2019 levels.

Looking ahead to 1Q2022, 88% is projected. However, even before the emergence of the 'Omicron' variant of the coronavirus, the pattern of previous quarters suggests that this is likely to be trimmed.

The World Health Organisation has said that the global risk from Omicron is "very high", dubbing it a variant of concern. There have been some increases in travel restrictions as a result and the outlook for 1Q2022 is now more uncertain.

Europe's capacity recovery has anyway lost momentum in recent weeks. Seat numbers for Europe are 28.7% below the equivalent week of 2019 in the week of 29-Nov-2021. This represents a slide of 4.1ppts over the past five weeks.

Europe is now down from fourth to fifth (just) in the regional capacity recovery ranking. Asia Pacific capacity is down by 36.8%, but the Middle East is slightly above Europe, with seats down by 28.5%. Africa is down by 25.0%, Latin America by 14.4%, and North America by 13.7%.

For Europe and all regions, Omicron's impact will shape the next phase of aviation's recovery.

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