A significant year-on-year upturn in transatlantic air travel looks set to give US airlines - and the wider North American travel and tourism industry - a glimmer of hope in an otherwise uneventful airline schedules month. The world’s airlines have scheduled more than 25,000 October flights between North America and Western Europe, nearly 1,400 more than last year, and the highest October figure since 9/11.
The six per cent capacity increase on transatlantic routes compares with a two percent increase in all flights to and from the USA and Canada, and a one per cent decrease in the number of domestic flights scheduled this month. Transpacific capacity is also up two per cent.
Globally, the world’s airlines plan to operate 2.4 million flights this month an increase of 3 percent over October 2005.
The figures are revealed in OAG Data’s latest Quarterly Airline Traffic Statistics, a regular snapshot of airline activity around the world. OAG collates data from more than 1000 scheduled airlines, on a daily basis, to give an overview of anticipated travel demand.
“Some interesting potential trends may be emerging,” says Joe Laughlin, OAG America’s Vice President, Sales & Service. “For example, the number of flights between North America and London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports is noticeably lower than in October last year, and there is only a slight growth in transatlantic capacity at the major continental European gateways of Frankfurt, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Schiphol.
“However, there are significant increases on routes between North America and Italy - Milan has 14 per cent more flights, and Rome has nine per cent more - and between North America and Madrid, where the number of flights is five per cent higher.
“Similarly, October shows major transatlantic capacity increases at Atlanta Hartsfield (up 23 per cent) and New York JFK (up 16 per cent).”
“Given the operating environment which is heavily impacted by high fuel costs, airlines have learned to be extremely proficient at predicting consumers’ appetite for travel,” he says.
Air travel to and from the oil-rich Middle East is showing the biggest increase. The number of flights scheduled for the region this month is 15 per cent higher than it was a year ago.
The number of October flights to and from the Asia-Pacific region is 12 per cent higher; there are 11 per cent more flights to and from Africa; and the figure for Europe is nine per cent up on October 2005. The number of services to and from South and Central America has decreased by two percent.