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Low-Cost Carriers Boost Airline Growth

June 8, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent

Growth in scheduled airlines operations is showing some signs of slowing compared to earlier months this year, according to the latest statistics from OAG, a UBM Aviation brand. The OAG FACTS (Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics) report for June reveals that global seat capacity will be 5 percent higher than the same month in 2010, or 16.1 million more seats, with 3 percent more flights. OAG reports last month’s figures were 6 percent and 4.2 percent respectively.

Capacity and frequency figures for the low cost sector, however, both show a rise of 9 percent this month, reflecting the consistent load factor performance that this business model tends to produce, OAG said.

More than one flight in every five worldwide is now operated by a low-cost carrier (LCC), accordign to OAG. Europe has the highest regional penetration with 28.2 percent of total flights operated by LCCs. There is now significant LCC presence in South America, where 22.7 percent of published flights for June are in the low cost sector.

The conservative overall growth rates in North America this month hide a story of continued LCC expansion, with U.S. to international seat capacity increasing by 18 percent. Figures for Africa, although comparatively low, reveal a significant year on year rise of 42 percent in LCC flights this month, while low cost operators account for a substantial 60 percent market share of India’s domestic flight capacity.

“At the year mid-point we are seeing some interesting trends emerging for 2011,” said Peter von Moltke, CEO of UBM Aviation. “Geo-political instabilities and natural disasters have – not surprisingly – prompted dips in regional activity, while some markets, such as Brazil and Vietnam, are showing stronger economic and airline performance than we have seen for some time. Across the board, the low-cost sector is a major influence in sustaining a steady growth trajectory for the global aviation industry.”

Looking at the main hub airports by scheduled capacity, Atlanta remains the world’s busiest airport with a projected 9.6 million seats available for passengers in June 2011. A noticeable feature this month is a reduction in the number of flights (down by 2 percent) accompanied by a 4 percent increase in overall seat capacity at the airport. This is undoubtedly a reflection of the growing move by network carriers such as Delta to move away from smaller capacity jets to larger aircraft – particularly as increased fuel prices begin to bite. Moscow Domodedevo’s success in attracting carriers to operate 22 new routes from the airport is illustrated by a remarkable 672,000 additional seats available this month.


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By George Dooley | June 8, 2011
One flight in every five worldwide is now operated by a low-cost carrier.
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