Worldwide airline capacity for Jan-2010 is positive compared to Jan-2009, according to OAG, marking the fifth consecutive month in which airline capacity has grown. Globally, some 294.6 million available seats are scheduled this this month, up 3% over the year-ago period. Global frequencies are up 2% compared to January 2009, with a total of 2.37 million flights scheduled for January 2010. Worldwide, frequency and capacity in the low-cost sector are up by 10% compared to a year ago.
Asia up, North America down
"As they should be, the airlines are cautious about the early signs of recovery and gradually increasing their capacity in the marketplace. It is a wise strategy, which should help them manage better yields as the economy recovers," said Mario Hardy, Vice President Asia Pacific, OAG Aviation. "This is of note in Asia, as frequency and capacity both into and within the region are showing continued increases."
While global capacity may be up, North American capacity continues to decline, reflecting the caution of airline CEOs who signal with each speech and quarterly webcast that restraint is needed. Indeed, the frequency of such statements is a first for many long-time industry observers who have watched airlines roar back from previous recessions hoping to gain market share from their rivals.
The North American region reflects a combination of decline and growth. North America experienced a 2.7% drop in flights to 22,826, while available seats declined 2.8% to 2.5 million. International frequency and capacity to/from the region rose 3% for flights to 2,347 and seats rose 1% to 230,554.
Flights to and from Europe show increases compared to January 2009, with 5% more flights and 3% more seats. Latin America, Asia, South/Central America, the Middle East and Africa are also showing increases in frequency and capacity.
OAG said some top routes are experiencing declines while others are up, largely reflecting the hot markets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Frequency and capacity between Western Europe and the Middle East reflect an increase of 7%, with 1,002 more flights and 194,307 more seats compared to Jan-2009. Routes between Western Europe and Africa show healthy growth, with 3,887 more flights (increase of 19%) and 690,790 more seats (18% increase). Showing decline is the trans-Atlantic market between North America and Western Europe, with a 5% decrease in seats (287,979). Frequencies are down 6%, with 1,274 fewer flights for the month.
Dubai experience the largest growth, according to the company’s hub analysis, with a 17% jump in frequencies and seating capacity compared to Jan-2009. Singapore Changi shows a 6% increase in flight frequency (1,235 flights) and a 3% increase in capacity (131,971 seats). New York JFK shows a reduction in both flights and seats with 9% and 4% decreases respectively. Chicago O'Hare also shows a 3% reduction in seats, while gaining a marginal increase in flights (1%).