The rise of Asian airlines and the use of larger aircraft are continuing to drive capacity growth in the global aviation industry.
According to the latest statistics from OAG, the world’s airlines have scheduled 4% extra capacity on 2.5% more flights in November 2011, marking six consecutive months of growth compared to the same period last year.
This month, 59,639 more scheduled flights offering 11 million more seats will operate across the globe, bringing the total number of scheduled flight offerings to 2.4 million flights, with 312.7 million seats. Capacity growth continues to be driven by ‘next-generation’ aircraft, such as the Airbus A380, which carries more passengers than the older models being replaced. Average seats per flight in November total 126, compared to 125 a year ago.
Regionally, Asia Pacific remains the largest aviation market with 35.6% share of worldwide seat capacity. The intra-Asia Pacific region also retains its leading position in total seat volume, growing 8% year-on-year to nearly 96 million seats in November 2011, comprising 30.6% of the worldwide seat share.
Intra-North America is the second-highest seat volume region, at 23%, but recorded a decline of 2.1% versus the same month a year ago. ‘To/From Africa’, ‘Within North America’, and ‘Within Europe’ all registered declines in frequency of 6.0%, 2.7%, and 0.6% respectively compared to the same period last year.
“Economic instability and political unrest have begun to hamper both business and leisure travel demand in the US, Europe and Africa, and we expect to see ongoing declines in seat and frequency growth rates in these regions compared to the worldwide average,” said Peter von Moltke, CEO of UBM Aviation.
“That said, we are witnessing history in Asia, where an incremental 2.9 million seats were added by just six airports year-over-year in November. The possible impact of an economic crisis aside, the increasing travel demand to, from and within Asia Pacific and other developing countries will sustain the industry’s overall growth for a long time to come,” he added.
In November 2011, low-cost carriers have a worldwide scheduled capacity share of 24% – a marginal 1% improvement over the previous year, as growth slowed in Europe and North America. LCCs’ worldwide share of capacity and frequency however, has more than doubled in less than a decade, growing from 10% capacity share in November 2002 to 24% in November 2011, and 8% frequency share in November 2002 to 20% this month. The Middle East, Central & South America and Asia Pacific continue to lead LCC seat capacity growth, posting 20%, 18.5% and 17.1% increases respectively over November 2010.
The world’s busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic, Atlanta, saw a 3% decline in schedule frequency and 1% decline in seat capacity. Beijing is catching up, with 1% and 3% growth in schedule frequency and seat capacity respectively. London Heathrow remains the third-busiest passenger airport in the world, recording a marginal drop in scheduled frequency but a marginal increase in seat capacity.
Based on annual growth rate of seat capacity among the world’s key hub airports in November 2011, Tirana, Albania, recorded the highest growth rate of 65%, followed by Mexico City (38%) and the Estonian capital, Tallinn (37%). Unsurprisingly, the Libyan capital Tripoli suffered the biggest decline in seat capacity, 93%, compared to the same period last year, as well as the highest decline in schedule frequency.
In terms of schedule frequency, Tirana airport achieved the highest growth rate of 57% over November 2010, followed by the Uruguayan capital Montevideo (50%) and Islamabad, Pakistan (45%).