Airline seat numbers reach record

The number of seats offered on flights operating this month (July) has reached an all-time high, with a capacity of 309.7 million seats worldwide - equivalent to an airline seat for the entire population of the United States. According to the latest statistics from OAG this represents 19.9 million extra seats (a 7% increase) available to travellers compared with the same month last year. 

The number of flights for July 2007 has increased by an additional 129,373, a rise of 5% year on year. A total of 2.6 million flights are timetabled this month, topping the previous industry high of 2.51 million reported for May 2007, and up from 2.47 million for July 2006. 

Within this global figure of all scheduled passenger flight operations, the low cost sector shows a 23% increase of over 76,000 more flights year on year and a 27% rise in the number of seats available, representing an extra 12.9 million low cost seats compared to July 2006. The low cost sector for this month now accounts for 16% of all flights (up from 13% a year ago) and 20% of all seats (up from 16%).


The figures are revealed in the latest OAG Quarterly Airline Traffic Statistics, a regular snapshot of airline activity around the world.  Flight information and data solutions company OAG, collates data from more than 1000 scheduled airlines, on a daily basis, which gives an accurate overview of anticipated travel demand. 



Aircraft fleet data from OAG’s sister company BACK Aviation Solutions reveals there are 38,234 planes operating worldwide compared to 36,803 the same time last year, an increase of almost 4%.  North America accounts for nearly one third with 13,800 aircraft, followed by Europe with 10,390. The regions showing the largest year on year increases are Asia Pacific (6.6%) and Africa (6.2%).


John Weber, managing director Aviation Services at OAG, commented:

“It is apparent from our statistics that there is continued and growing consumer demand for air travel. While airlines worldwide are responding to this demand by increasing their capacity, they are also committed to making significant investment in new, more efficient aircraft.”


Globally, there are more than 6,100 aircraft on order this month compared to this time last year, a rise of 30%.  Of these, Asia Pacific accounts for 2,035 orders.  When compared with the number of aircraft on order a year ago, Europe is showing the largest percentage increase at 43% (488 more aircraft on order), followed by Asia Pacific with 34%, representing 516 more aircraft.  North America currently has 287 additional new aircraft on order than in July 2006, an increase of 19%.  Although the numbers are relatively small, Africa and Central/South America are both showing a 29% increase in the number of aircraft on order, respectively 28 and 75 additional new orders since this time last year.


Route Growth

Most major routes are showing growth of between 1% and 3%. However, even before the full impact of Open Skies, transatlantic frequency and capacity for July 2007 have both risen by 10%, or 2,700 more flights and 700,000 more seats.


The number of flights between Western Europe and Africa continues to show above-average growth at 11%, representing 2,100 more flights between these two continents and over 322,000 more seats available.


Activity within Latin America is picking up again, with the region showing a 3% growth of more than 4,600 additional flights this month over July 06, and a 5% increase in capacity representing an additional 880,000 seats.


The Europe and Asia markets are fast approaching the same capacity levels as the US: For July 07 the volumes are 74m in Europe and 79m in Asia Pacific compared with 87m in the US.  Despite this, Europe and Asia both are still some way behind in the number of flights.


Other noteworthy statistics for July 2007 vs July 2006:


All passenger flight operations:


á      China Domestic up by 25k flights (19%) and 3.6m seats (19%)

á      India Domestic up by 8,900 flights (26%) and 1.8m seats (45%)

á      To/from Thailand up 1500 more flights (10%) and 321k seats (8%)

á      To/from South Korea up 4000 more flights (26%) and 645k seats (17%)

á      To/From UK up 12k more flights (10%) and 2.5m seats (13%)

á      To/from France up by 4.7k flights (6%) and 800k seats (8%)

á      To/from Germany up by 6k more flights (5%) and 1m seats (7%)

á      To/from Italy up by 7,700 flights (13%) and 1.3m seats (16%)

á      To/From Spain up 13k more flights (20%) and 2.5m seats (24%)

á      To/from Greece up by 2,700 flights (20%) and 500k seats (22%)

á      To/from Poland 1300 flights (9%) and 216k seats (13%)

á      Domestic Russia up 2,900 flights (10%) and 217k seats (7%)

á      To/from Morocco up by 1,300 flights (20%) and 241k seats (24%)

á      Domestic Mexico up by 3,500 flights (11%) but just 26k seats (1%)

á      Domestic Canada up by 8,300 flights (13%) and 217k seats (5%)




Contributing to the strong transatlantic growth:


á      New York JFK to/from W Europe has 457 more flights (up 10%) and 127k more seats (up 11%) a month

á      London Gatwick to/from USA & Canada has 292 more flights (up 16%) and 57.4k more seats (up 11%)

á      Rome Fiumicino to/from USA & Canada has 231 more flights (up 24%) and 64.7k more seats (up 29%)

á      Madrid to/from USA & Canada has 194 more flights (up 31%) and 44k more seats (up 27%)

á      London Heathrow to/from USA and Canada has 154 more flights (up 3%) and 51.6k more seats (up 3%)

á      Chicago O’Hare to/from W Europe has 143 more flights (up 6%) and 53k more seats (up 9%)

á      Conversely, there are 135 fewer flights this month between Atlanta and Western Europe, a drop of 7%.