Global airline capacity rose again this month, as OAG reported a 6 percent increase in the total number of seats. Worldwide, there were 311.7 million scheduled seats available in December. Over the last decade the number of available seats worldwide has increased by 40 percent, growing in most of those years. The number of flights has increased 24 percent during that same period.
“Passenger confidence is growing, along with the economy, and while some regions’ growth, like the Americas and Europe, are mirroring the modest improvements in the economic environment, many are growing at a striking rate," said Peter von Moltke, CEO of UBM Aviation, OAG's parent company. "Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East all continue to show a large appetite for air travel."
Regional increases over the past decade include a 130 percent increase in capacity and a 140 percent increase in frequency in travel to and from Africa and increases of 176 percent in capacity and 188 percent in frequency in the Middle East. Travel to and from Asia Pacific increased 88 percent in capacity and 109 percent in frequency, and travel to and from Europe from 72 percent in capacity and 82 percent in frequency.
Although Europe’s growth during the past decade isn’t quite as impressive as other regions of the world, it is strong. Seat capacity and frequency to and from Europe were robust in December, both increasing 11 percent over the same period last year. The total number of seats available is 23.7 million, or an increase of 2.3 million, year-over-year; with 104,894 flights (a 10,285 increase).
Recent incremental improvements in the global economy are having a noticeable impact on passenger demand for travel with positive growth in all regions of the world, with the exception of travel to and from the Americas. Double-digit increases were also experienced in capacity to and from Africa (11%), Asia (12%) and the Middle East (13%). In fact, all of these regions have seen growth in the number of scheduled seats for ten consecutive years.
“While load factors and fares have remained relatively strong in the economic recovery process, it is hoped that airlines continue to add capacity strategically and with prudence in mind, with fuel prices likely to rise next years and other recessionary factors impacting the industry, demand for air travel could be severely tested,” said John Grant, senior vice president of Airport Strategy & Marketing.