Scheduled airline capacity growth in June 2011 appears to be decelerating slightly compared with earlier months of the year, recording a year-on-year increase of 5% based on the latest scheduled data from OAG. This increase is in line with overall capacity increase trends since the beginning of 2011. The number of flights also increased by 3%, marginally below the average monthly increase of 4% for the year so far.
Source: OAG, includes international capacity to/from the regions.
The results reflect a combination of strong economic performance and related air transport activity in a number of markets such as Brazil and Vietnam, and at the same time a number of ad-hoc market “shocks” caused by the Japanese tsunami and geo-political instability in markets such as Libya and Bahrain.
Looking at the main regional markets the only region to not record growth was the to/from Central & South America market. Frequencies are down 2% for June year on year although available seat capacity grew marginally by 1%. The reduction in frequencies to/from the region is close to the trend for the year to date for the region, which shows a 3% reduction. However, seat capacity within the Central and South America region grew by 8%.
The Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions again vied for the position of fastest growing air transport markets. Middle East recorded an 8% increase in flight frequency and a 10% increase in seat capacity to and from the region, whilst the Asia-Pacific region kicked in with a 10% increase in flight frequencies and a 9% increase in seat capacity. Looking at the world from the perspective of “trading blocs”, intra Asia-Pacific frequencies exceeded those within Europe once again to place the region firmly in second position behind the North America region.
Intra-European and intra- North American frequencies remained almost static with each recording frequency growth of 1%, reflecting the slow rate of economic recovery in these markets.
Seat capacity within Africa has continued its strong performance throughout 2011 with a 9% increase in flights in June, supported by new LCC capacity in South Africa. Intercontinental flights to and from Africa stagnated in June 2011.
In terms of total volume growth, the intra Asia/Pacific region remains the clear leader with an increase of almost 6.7 million seats in June 2011 against 2010.
Worldwide low cost scheduled capacity again increased year on year, with a 9% increase in both frequency and capacity reflecting the consistent load factor performance that this business model tends to produce. On a global basis more than one flight in every five is now operated by a LCC, with Europe showing the highest regional penetration of 28.2% of total flights being LCC operated. There is now significant LCC presence in emerging markets such as South America where 22.7% of flights in June were performed by a LCC, and in Africa where June saw a huge 42% increase in LCC flights.
Source: OAG, includes Low Cost Carrier frequency within the regions.
Main Hub Airports
Looking at the main hub airports by scheduled capacity, Atlanta remains the world’s busiest airport with a projected 9.6m seats available for passengers in June 2011. A noticeable feature for June is actually a small reduction in the number of frequencies (down by 2%) accompanied by a 4% increase in overall seat capacity. This is undoubtedly a reflection of the growing move by network carriers such as Delta to move away from smaller capacity jets to larger aircraft – particularly as increased fuel prices begin to bite.
Beijing heads off Heathrow for second place with 8.1m available seats compared to 7.9m, whilst Chicago O’Hare picks up fourth place in the global league table with 7.4m available seats.
In terms of traffic volatility, the most notable aspect of the June statistics for hub airports is seen in Tokyo Narita, where a combination of short term capacity withdrawals due to suppressed passenger demand created by the recent Tsunami and the opening of new capacity at neighbouring Tokyo Haneda Airport. A massive 475,000 year-on-year reduction in seats is projected for Narita in June 2011.
Source: OAG, includes capacity by Major Asia Hub Airports.
In terms of absolute volume, Delhi Airport once again had the largest year on year growth in June with a remarkable increase of over 893,000 seats reflecting the successful opening of the new Delhi Airport and the hub facilities it now offers Air India, Jet Airways and Kingfisher.
Moscow Domodedevo’s success in attracting carriers to operate 22 new routes from the airport in summer 2011 is also illustrated by a huge 672,000 increase in June seat capacity.
From a US perspective, Delta’s strategy on concentrating on its primary hub airports rather than secondary hubs reflects in the 15% reduction in Memphis seat capacity.
The key Asia Pacific hubs in Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok all enjoyed healthy double digit capacity and frequency growth, driven by a combination of strong flag carrier performance and further expansion by LCCs.
The total available seats for the region (both within and to/from Africa) grew year on year by 4.3%, with an even healthier 5.7% increase in projected flight movements.
Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines continue to be key drivers of African growth with growth in the Eastern African region of 13.5% in seat capacity and 26.8% in flight frequency. Intra –African traffic as a whole continues its excellent growth performance for the six months of 2011, which have seen an additional 2.37m seats placed into the market above the first half of 2010.
This reflected in 15% seat growth in Nairobi and 10% growth at Addis Ababa airports respectively. Africa growth in general would have been even stronger in June if it were not for the continued depressing effect of the political instability in North Africa, where Tripoli for instance sees a projected 28% reduction in passenger seats. Intra-African Low Cost Carrier services continue to thrive, with a 20% increase in seat capacity.
Traffic within the region grew again in June year on year with a 1% increase in frequencies which is in line with trends over the first six months of 2011.Seat capacity increased by 2%, indicating the caution in general currently felt by US carriers in adding back seats at a rate which could create the excess capacity situations of previous post-recession recovery periods.
The conservative overall growth rates in North America hides a story of continued LCC expansion, with US to International seat capacity showing a large 18% increase in June driven partly by further US LCC expansion in the Caribbean. Canadian international LCC capacity also shows a 17% growth, mainly driven by Westjet. The key US network carrier hubs in Dallas Fort Worth, Chicago and Atlanta display low single digit growth for June that epitomises extremely cautious capacity management by carriers such as American, United and Delta. Cross border traffic between the US and Mexico also continues to reflect the turbulent tourism marketplace in Mexico, and the withdrawal of large scale capacity after the bankruptcy of Mexicana in 2010.
Source: OAG, includes capacity US & Canada to/from Central/Latin America.
Whilst intercontinental traffic to and from Europe recorded a 6% increase in both frequencies and seat capacity, this contrasts with a relatively flat 1% growth in overall flight frequency and a 4% increase in seat capacity for intra-Europe itself. There are still some noticeable variances between different European markets. Whilst the “problem” economies of Spain, Greece and Ireland all recorded seat capacity reductions in their own domestic markets, airports such as Helsinki displayed healthy capacity increases of 17% (270,000 monthly seats). The battle in the London market place between airports seeking to attract LCC carriers in particular is illustrated starkly by the 7% year on year loss in capacity at London Stansted compared to the 9% increase in seat capacity at London Gatwick; re-location of frequencies by carriers such as Easyjet and Air Berlin have been driving this process. Notable capacity drawdowns on UK domestic routes by BMI reflect in a drop of almost 330,000 seats in the UK domestic market place.
Intra-European LCC capacity traffic continues to expand, with June 2011 indicating a year-on-year increase of 8%. LCC market share of total intra-European seat capacity consolidated at 37%, a repetition of the May 2011 figure.
Source: OAG, includes Low Cost Carrier Share of Intra-Europe Market.
The first six months of 2011 have seen steady traffic growth in the Asia-Pacific region, with an increase in both flight frequency and seat capacity of 8% over the same period in 2010. China in particular continues to be the growth engine for the region, with nearly 1,7m additional seats available for June 2011 over June 2010 in the domestic market alone. Air China, China Eastern and China Southern have also driven strong international service growth of 13% year on year increase in international frequencies and 12% increase in international seat capacity.
The short-term challenges to the Japanese market are reflected in a number of short-term service reductions by both JAL and ANA that drive the minor reductions in seat capacity in the Japanese market in June 2011.
The Indian domestic market continues to record strong growth, with an 18% increase in seat capacity. Low cost carriers are driving much of this domestic growth, and they now have 60% market share of capacity within India.
OAG FACTS uses interactive graphs to display a 10-year visual trend of the performance of a specific airport, route, country or region. It is updated monthly.
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