World flight network sees slow growth

The world’s airlines are scheduled to operate just 1% more flights for July 2008 compared with the same month last year. According to the latest statistics from OAG (Official Airline Guide), this represents an additional 34,800 flights. Capacity for July is up by 3% year on year.

The total number of flights scheduled to operate worldwide this month is 2.64 million, offering 318.3 million seats to travelers around the globe.  Within this global figure of all scheduled passenger flight operations, the low cost sector accounts for 459,000 flights (17%) and 68.3 million seats (21%).  Frequencies and capacity in the low cost sector are both showing 13% growth for July 2008 vs July 2007.


Within the United States, domestic activity has dropped 2% overall, or 21,500 fewer flights this month, resulting in 818,000 fewer seats. This is despite increases in low cost frequencies and capacity within the US of 4% and 3% respectively.



Figures for Europe and Asia Pacific indicate these regions are faring better at present, with intra-Europe and intra-Asia Pacific figures both showing a 3% increase in the number of flights (up by 18,268 and 15,975 respectively) and a 4% rise in capacity of 3.03 million and 3.07 million more seats year on year.


Steve Casley, Chief Operating Officer, OAG, commented:


“The OAG figures for July reveal signs of an impending downturn in the aviation industry. While some regions continue to show steady growth, the impact from the current climate in the United States is already contributing to an overall slowdown in the global figures and on the key long-haul routes between North America and hubs in Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. The full impact will be clearer when we publish our forecast for the 4th quarter.”


The figures are revealed in the latest OAG Aviation Statistics, a regular snapshot of airline activity around the world.  Flight information and data solutions company OAG collates data from more than 900 scheduled airlines, on a daily basis, which gives an accurate overview of anticipated travel demand.


The transatlantic route, traditionally one of strong growth, is showing just 1% increase in flights and 2% in capacity for July.  Similarly, there is just 1% rise in the number of transpacific flights and seats.  Flights between Western Europe and the Middle East, however, are up by 11%, and there is a rise of 6% for flights between Western Europe and Asia Pacific.


India continues to show year-on-year growth far exceeding the average.  For this month, there is a 34% increase in flights to and from India (4,545 extra flights representing 870,000 more seats) and a 12% rise in domestic operations (5,341 flights, 576,000 seats). The Middle East is showing a 20% growth in international operations (7,248 flights and 1.4 million seats), but a drop of -4% on routes within the region.


Other territories showing a notably significant increase in year-on-year capacity are the Russian Federation (621,000 more domestic seats, 558,000 more international seats); France, with 428,000 more international seats, of which 84% is in the low cost sector; UAE with 694,000 more international seats, largely driven by continued growth of Emirates and Etihad; Canada, with 321,000 more domestic seats, largely attributable to WestJet and Porter; and Poland, with 492,000 more international seats, of which around half are in the low cost sector.


Aircraft fleet data from OAG reveals there are 40,197 planes operating worldwide this month compared to 38,886 the same time last year, an increase of 3.4%.  North America accounts for 36% of the global market, followed by Europe with 27%. Globally, there are more than 8,100 aircraft on order this month, a rise of just under 20% compared to this time last year.  North America is the only region showing a decline year on year, with 0.6% fewer aircraft on order compared with July 2007. Asia Pacific accounts for the largest share of new orders (33%) and the Middle East is showing the largest year on year percentage increase at 74.3% (347 more aircraft on order than a year ago).