Last week’s capacities update, where we stated the airlines vanished half of the scheduled weekly seats, was not the bottom of COVID-19 crisis. This week we see airlines further cutting capacity with another portion of weekly seats removed from scheduled capacity.
Still, we see the airlines still are in firefighting mode and updating their schedules for the upcoming few weeks. Airline schedules show the optimism of traffic recovery in the month of May, but this may be just a sign of uncertainty when the government-imposed limitations will be lifted and what the pattern of demand recovery will be.
This pre-Easter week of April 6 to 12th, airlines all around the world have 38.4 million seats scheduled to depart. Less than month ago, airlines believed the Easter demand will be more than 100 million seats.
We believe airlines may look more into the May and June months planning around Easter and we expect changes in capacities for these months later. It is quite obvious the demand will not rise over 100 million seats mark this summer.
The cuts in Asia, the largest continent by scheduled capacity, were the smallest. Airlines removed 5 million seats for next five weeks, compared to the picture a week ago. Airlines are optimistic in recovery the region in May.
Airlines in North America are still running down expectations for the capacity required for the next week. We see airlines expect the market will shrink. The real firefighting mode is visible in the airlines’ decisions: we heard a few notices about service cuts, but the airlines are not quick to reflect the changes in the schedules. There is plenty of optimism for the month of May, but that is most likely a sign that airlines need more time to work and confirm new schedules.
The cut of schedule capacity in Europe was also smaller compared to the reductions we saw a week ago. Airlines have scheduled 3.5 million seats for the current week. That is the drastic downsize compared to 22.9 million seats scheduled for the Easter week in the middle of March. We see the largest market in Europe now being Russia, driven by scheduled domestic flights. The number of seats should be reduced as the flight limitations hit Russia a bit later than Western Europe. Still, European airlines kept almost the same capacity for the month of May as a week ago.
Despite the fact that South America and Africa are relatively less impacted by COVID-19, the capacity is heavily reduced by the airlines to meet lack of demand and respond to government-imposed limitations. A sharp increase in capacity is still scheduled for the beginning of May, but this is subject to revision as the situation continues to develop.
We noticed very similar pattern in Africa, like in South America:
The airlines serving Oceania are less optimistic with the timing of recovery. If we saw last week some optimism to grow the capacity for the second part of May, we see a flat line now for May’s capacity. Nevertheless, all schedules are subject to change these days, but still we expect more cuts than resumed routes in the next two months.
We see airlines are changing schedules really fast. Our “Route News” (available for ch-aviation schedules subscribers) are updated every week to inform you about the recent changes in route cancellations.
We will continue to monitor the situation on capacities and will post on our blog. Follow us here and follow our #chaviationcovid19updates on Linkedin.