The total number of scheduled flights operating in October this year shows a 3% increase to 2,651,065 compared with October 2010. However, seat capacity increased by 5% compared with the corresponding period last year. This scenario reflects the sustained development of increasing average aircraft size as the key driver of seat capacity growth. More ‘Next Generation’ aircraft with higher seat capacity are replacing the smaller, older seat capacity models. Average seats per frequency for October 2011 is 127 compared with 125 last year.
Regionally, both ‘To/From Africa’ and ‘Within America’ are the only key regions that register a decline in the number of flights, with decreases of 2% versus October 2010 figures. The political instability in Africa is possibly the cause of reduced international flights into the region. Asia Pacific remains the highest growth region with 11% more scheduled flights ‘To/From Asia Pacific’. Nevertheless, it is closely trailed by ‘Within Africa’ which shows 10% growth. Figures for the ‘Within Europe’ region show marginal 2% growth.
In capacity terms, ‘Within Central & South America’ has the highest growth of 14% compared with the same month last year, leaving the second highest growth region, ‘To/From Asia Pacific’, far behind with 9% growth. Similar to flight frequency development, both ‘To/From Africa’ and ‘Within America’ are the only two regions with declines in seat capacity of 2% and 1% respectively. Besides these two regions, ‘To/from Europe’ is the only other region with a growth rate lower than the worldwide seat capacity figure of 5% growth.
The intra-Asia Pacific region retains its leading position in total seat volumes, with nearly 100 million seats supported by 8% growth year on year. Intra-Asia Pacific remains the biggest aviation market with 30% market share of worldwide seat capacity. The intra-North America market has the third highest seat volume, although the capacity figure has decreased from October 2010. Looking further back, comparing Oct 2011 data with Oct 2002 data, ‘To/from Africa’ and ‘To/from Middle East’ regions are the only two regions that exceeded ‘To/from Asia Pacific’s’ capacity growth rate.
In October 2011, Low Cost Carriers have a worldwide schedule frequency share of 21%, a marginal 1% improvement from the previous year, but a significant improvement from the 8% share recorded in 2002. In terms of seat volumes, Low Cost Carriers have a worldwide seat capacity share of 25%, again, a marginal 1% growth from the preceding year but significant growth since the 10% seat capacity share in 2002.
Intra regionally, Europe still dominates the world’s low cost market in terms of seat capacity; however the European LCC market is saturated, which can be observed through the low growth rate. Europe and North America are the only two regions that recorded less than 10% growth year on year. Seat capacity for low cost carriers within Asia Pacific is fast catching up with North America. With the rapid expansion of the region’s LCC network, led by more joint ventures and offshore subsidiaries of existing Low Cost Carriers within the region, Asia Pacific may overtake North America as the world’s second largest low cost market in the near future. Nevertheless, it will probably still take some time to achieve this as Asia Pacific still trails Europe’s low cost capacity by a gap of almost 10 million seats. Africa and Middle East have the lowest number of intra-regional low cost seats, but both regions recorded among the highest growth rates. These markets should be rapidly bridging the gap with the leading low cost markets over the next few years.
Europe is the only region with low growth in LCC seat volumes for both intra- and inter-regional LCC operations. While Africa tops the list for intra-regional growth compared with October 2010, the figures for services into and out of the region are relatively low. Asia Pacific has the highest inter-regional growth rate and is the only one with over 20% growth year on year. The exponential capacity growth of long haul LCCs in the region has undoubtedly contributed to this. Central & South America and Middle East are not far behind, with both regions showing close to 20% annual growth.
Major Hub Airports:
The world’s top airport, Atlanta, has a 3% decline in schedule frequency and 1% decline in seat capacity. Beijing is fast catching up with 5% growth compared with October 2010 for both scheduled flights and seat capacity. London Heathrow remains steadily ranked as the third largest airport in the world in terms of capacity with a marginal 1% increase in scheduled flights, although seat capacity has declined marginally. While the top three hub airport rankings are the same as a year ago, Tokyo Haneda has overtaken Chicago O Hare as the fourth largest hub airport in the world by seat capacity, supported by the newly opened Terminal 3 operations. Tokyo Haneda is expected to continue its growth as more slots are expected to be released for additional schedule services. Beijing is also pulling away from its nearest competitor, London Heathrow. The gap between the two airports has widened to 451,573 seats from a marginal 2,739 seats in the same month last year.
Based on the annual seat capacity growth rate among the world’s key hub airports in Oct 2011, Djibouti (JIB) has the highest growth rate of 48%, followed by Mexico City (45%) and Tallinn (43%). Conversely, Tripoli has suffered the biggest year on year capacity decline with 29% fewer seats. Based on absolute numbers, Istanbul has sustained its aggressive growth with 1.1 million additional seats compared with the corresponding period last year. Within the top 10 ranked by an incremental number of seats, hubs in South East Asia commanded the top four spots, represented by Jakarta, Manila, Singapore Changi and Bangkok. If you include Delhi, the incremental capacity volume is a mammoth 2.9 million seats for these five airports; a strong testament that Asia Pacific is the main driver of aviation growth.
In terms of schedule frequency, Harare Airport has the highest growth rate of 41% compared with October 2010, followed by Accra (39%) and Montego Bay (39%).
Seat capacity for the African region, both intra and To/From combined, grew by 2.1% for October 2011 while the volume of scheduled flights increased by 5.2% compared to same month last year. This frequency growth is mainly generated by narrow-body fleet within the African region. Between the sub regions, North Africa continues to hold the majority of the regional market. However, North Africa is the only sub region that shows a decline in both intra and inter-region statistics for both schedule frequency and seat capacity. Apart from North Africa, the only sub region that recorded a decline is inter-region traffic in Central/Western Africa, with a 1% drop in schedule frequency and 2% in seat capacity. T the continued overall growth in the African region is buoyed by Eastern Africa, which has strong growth in scheduled flight frequencies and seat capacity within Eastern Africa of 32% and 21% respectively.
Over the last six years, the volume of intra Africa scheduled flights has increased by 39%, supported by 41% more capacity over the same period. Seat volumes To/From Africa have risen even more, with 65% more capacity and 69% growth in scheduled flights since 2005.
London and Paris remain the top inter-continental routes from the African region, with services to both cities offering more than 600,000 seats monthly.
The intra-North American market remains pessimistic with decreases year on year in both frequencies and capacity of 2% and 1% respectively. Nevertheless, scheduled services To/From North America have risen by 7% compared with October 2010 with a 5% gain in seat capacity.
The charts above show that low cost seats within North America are driving growth within the region as seat capacity for network carriers is declining.
As can be seen from the chart above, China remains the biggest contributor to the strong 27% growth improvement over the past six years from the major Asia Pacific airports. Shanghai has increased seat capacity to North America by 121% since October 2005, followed closely by Beijing’s 83% increase. Singapore recorded the biggest drop in seat capacity compared with the same month six years ago, possibly due to the loss of Singapore Airlines’ SIN-ICN-YVR and SIN-TPE-LAX services within this period.
Seat capacity between Asia Pacific and the three major hub airports in North America are consistently increasing, albeit marginally since rebounding from the declines in 2009.
Frequency and seat capacity figures to/from Asia Pacific have increased by 11% and 9% respectively. Within Asia/Pacific, there are an additional 54,275 flights (up by 9%) and 7,786,233 more seats (up by 8%) in October 2011 compared with the same month in 2010.
Domestic capacity in Mainland China has grown by 10% year on year. China’s international capacity has seen an even sharper increase of 12%, or an additional 849,863 international seats.
Seat capacity within Southwest Pacific is the only sub region that recorded a decline, albeit marginally below 1%. In terms of schedule frequency, Within Southwest Pacific and Within Central Asia both registered 2% decline. Other KPIs remain positive for Asia Pacific. To/From Central Asia recorded the
Over the 6 years from October 2005 to October 2011, To/From Central Asia remains the sub region with the highest growth in both schedule frequency and seat capacity. The seat capacity Within South Asia also posted significant growth of 108%.
October 2011 also marks the first anniversary of the new Terminal 3 in Tokyo Haneda airport. Tokyo Haneda continues to register improvement in both schedule frequency and seat capacity year-on-year despite the setback following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami catastrophic disaster which
The healthy upward trend for Tokyo Haneda is expected to continue, and will see further growth when the authorities release more runway slots.
There is a 4% growth in schedule frequency and seat capacity To/From Europe compared to October 2010. Within Europe, seat capacity has increased by 5% on 2% more scheduled flights.
To/From Eastern Europe (excluding Russia) has registered the highest seat capacity growth, while To/From the European Union leads the pack in schedule frequency growth.
All three sub regions in Europe have seen consistent growth over the last six years, except for a marginal decline in 2008 and 2009. This month, overall seat capacity for the region is now at its highest level for seven years.
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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