Global airline capacity drops 9 million seats in April


The world’s airlines have scheduled 6 percent fewer flights for April 2009 compared with the same month last year, with a 3 percent drop in seat capacity, according to the latest statistics from OAG. This is the ninth successive month of declines and represents a reduction of more than 136,000 flights and 9 million seats year on year. The total number of flights scheduled to operate worldwide this month is 2.34 million, offering 287.3 million seats to travelers around the globe.

The figures are revealed in the April 2009 edition of OAG FACTS (Frequency & Capacity Trend Statistics), the dynamic monthly market intelligence tool providing the latest data on current passenger airline activity around the world.

Flight schedules within Europe are down by 8 percent compared to April 2008, with 50,854 fewer flights. Capacity within the region is down by 7 percent with
4.7 million fewer seats on offer. The UK shows a steep decline with a reduction in domestic flights and capacity of 13 percent and 14 percent respectively, while international operations are down by 10 percent (11,237 fewer flights) and 9 percent (1.6 million fewer seats).

Figures for North America show downturns of 9 percent in domestic frequencies and 8 percent in capacity, with a 6 percent drop for flights and capacity to and from the region. Flights within Central/South America have 5 percent less capacity, while Asia is relatively stable with a 1 percent drop in capacity to and from the region and a welcome rise of 3 percent in the number of seats offered on services within the region.

The Middle East region, however, is enjoying a significant upward trend on all counts. Flights and capacity for travel within the region are up by 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively, while the number of flights and seats offered to and from the region are both showing growth year on year of 15 percent for April 2009. This represents an additional 5,701 flights and 1.2 million seats on offer.

Flights to and from Africa are up by 6 percent with a 7 percent increase in capacity, although flights within the region are down by 1.6 percent with virtually no change in capacity.

David Beckerman, VP market intelligence at OAG, said: “The OAG figures for April reveal some sharp contrasts. The Middle East and Africa, and Asia to a lesser degree, are showing growth, while Europe and North America continue to show steep declines. These contrasts can be seen also on the key long-haul routes, where transatlantic and transpacific services are down significantly compared with this time last year, while services between western Europe and the Middle East have increased by 16 percent.”