A record number of passengers are set to fly this month despite airlines readjusting their schedules due to the Japanese tsunami and earthquakes.
According to the latest snapshot from OAG, the world’s airlines are scheduled to offer 317.4 million seats in April, the highest ever capacity for the month, and 5 percent up on April 2010.
Frequencies, too, are showing significant growth with a 3 percent rise, or 80,653 more flights scheduled to operate worldwide in April 2011 compared to April 2010.
The fastest growing market by volume of seats is to and from the Middle East, with an 11 percent increase in capacity year on year. However, political events in the region will likely have an effect on sustaining this level of scheduled capacity.
In terms of absolute growth, the intra-Asia Pacific region is the clear leader with more than 6.2 million additional seats and 40,203 more published flights this month against April 2010. Over the last five years, figures within the Asia Pacific region have shown average capacity growth of 7 percent compared to the global average of 4 percent.
“Japan is such a major influence on the world stage and no region will be immune from the effects of the devastation. That, along with the prevailing economic pressures and concerns about rising oil prices, are certain to impact ongoing demand,” said Peter von Moltke, Chief Executive Officer, of OAG parent company UBM Aviation.
The only regional market showing a reduction in overall frequency this month is for flights to and from Central & South America, although this drop is less than 1 percent and an improvement on March figures when the reduction was 2.7 percent year on year. In sharp contrast, the low cost sector is bucking this trend. Growth in frequencies and available seats on low cost carriers is higher to and from Central & South America than for any other region this month, up by 28 percent and 27 percent respectively.
Analysis of the European market reveals marginal growth of 0.3 percent in frequencies and just 2 percent in capacity for services within the region. Even the low cost sector shows modest growth this month with 3% more seats available year on year.
“European aviation has been relatively robust in meeting the industry-wide challenges of the last decade, however increased competition from rail operators and a variety of taxation changes in major EU markets are starting to take their toll,” continued von Moltke.
April figures from OAG show UK domestic services are taking a big hit with a 14 percent drop in overall capacity and an 18 percent drop in available seats on low cost carriers. Germany, too, shows a significant reduction in capacity this month, with 5 percent less domestic capacity overall and 11 percent fewer low cost seats available.
“UK Air Passenger Duty, although frozen until 2012, continues to have an impact on business and leisure air travel demand, and we expect to see further reductions in UK domestic services in our May figures,” von Moltke added.
While North America’s domestic air service has grown at 2 percent for the month, it is the only region to record a drop in numbers against April 2002, with both frequency and capacity figures down compared to a decade ago. Additionally, for the first time, low cost carriers now represent over 30 percent of available capacity of the domestic US market.