Global airline growth gaining pace


CHICAGO, Ill. – The world’s airlines are anticipating increased demand again in May according to the latest statistics from OAG, a UBM Aviation brand. The OAG FACTS (Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics) report for May reveals a 6% increase in scheduled capacity, an additional 17.9 million seats, compared to the same month in 2010. This means that May growth is ahead of the 5% average monthly capacity increase for the year to date. The number of scheduled frequencies is up 4.2% year on year, or 106,438 more flights, ahead of the 3.9% average monthly increase for 2011.

“The scheduled May services reflect continued expectations for increased global demand, despite tempering in some regions due to economic pressures, political unrest, fuel costs and other influences,” said Peter von Moltke, Chief Executive Officer, UBM Aviation. “While some sectors will continue expansion and the overall outlook for 2011 is optimistic, we see carriers cautiously monitoring the external influences as well as trends in business and leisure travel behaviors.”

China is now the second largest domestic market in the world behind the United States with more than 30 million available seats this month, an increase of 7% over May 2010. China’s domestic capacity has almost trebled since 2002 and represents 9% of the total global air travel market. Brazil is ranked third with 11.1 million domestic seats.

In terms of total growth, the intra Asia/Pacific region remains the clear leader with an increase of over 6.7 million seats for the month. Six of the top ten worldwide airports by capacity growth year on year are in this region, with Delhi, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Singapore, Tokyo Haneda and Kuala Lumpur representing over 3.9 million additional seats and 22% of the total worldwide growth for the month. Delhi tops worldwide growth with a 28% increase in seats and 20% growth in flights.

The Middle East is the fastest growing region in international available seats with an 11% year on year growth in capacity to and from the region. In terms of international flight frequency growth, Asia Pacific remains first.

Atlanta remains the largest global airport based on scheduled capacity, with almost 9 million available seats in May, and is a remarkable 15% ahead of the second largest hub, Beijing. Yet again, Heathrow has swapped with Tokyo Haneda this month for the number three spot. This repositioning is undoubtedly based on recent events in Japan as carriers around the world are managing capacity in this region on a short term basis.

A snapshot of Europe this month reveals that the intra Europe region growth is second only to Asia / Pacific with a 6% growth over 2010. The strong growth of low cost carriers (LCC) continues in Europe with the share of the intra Europe market now at 37% compared to just 7.6% a decade ago. The top eight airports between Europe and North America, AMS, CDG, FCO, FRA, LGW, LHR, MAD and MXP, now represent 28% of to total capacity between North America and Europe, the lowest it has been over the last decade.