If not green, the lights are at least turning orange, or even pale orange, according to OAG. The British consultant, which specializes in scheduling and capacity analysis, analyses the growth in seat volume in the various traffic segments around the world week after week. According to OAG, the number of seats offered worldwide should reach 1.187 billion in the first quarter of 2022. That’s a big increase from the first quarter of 2021 when only 711 million seats were on sale. But it’s still a far cry from the first quarter of 2019 when total seat volume accumulated at 1.354 billion.

In fact, OAG is seeing some caution from airlines, especially internationally. Many markets continue to miss out, whether geographic such as Asia in general, or sectoral. This is still the case for business travel.

For the past year, carriers have been scalded by the announcements of various governments on the forthcoming opening of this or that country. Announcements that have often had difficulty in materializing or that have been subsequently cut back again. OAG therefore believes that airlines are waiting to be further ahead in the winter season. Many carriers have announced the reopening of routes in January or even February 2022.

Caution remains the order of the day

OAG notes, however, that capacity by region has remained virtually unchanged for several weeks, a situation that is likely to continue into the first quarter of 2022.

Global airline capacity thus remains 13% below 2019 levels for Q1 2022. However, it is up 67% on 2021. OAG reports that an additional six million seats have been taken off the market through the end of 2021, as airlines believe supply matches demand. In total, 2021 is expected to end with a total full-year seat capacity of 3.7 billion, compared to 3.2 billion in 2020 and 5.7 billion in 2019.

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For the week of October 18, almost all markets are up compared to the week of October 11. The strongest increase (+7.2%) was seen in Southeast Asia, but the region is starting from a historically low volume. Its supply remains nearly 70% lower than in 2020. Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe recorded a drop in capacity of 3.2% and 5.2% respectively compared with the week of 11 October. This is a more classic adjustment phenomenon with the end of many seasonal flights operated during the summer.

The countries with the highest capacity are unsurprisingly the US, China and India, all three of which have intense domestic activity. Spain, however, ranks fourth due to the many holiday flights from all over Europe. France ranks 14th with 1.48 million seats, up 2.6% week-on-week.

Evolution of capacity in seats between 20 January 2020 and 18 October 2021 (Source: OAG)

<a href=”https://www.voyages-d-affairs.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/world-map-evolution-capacity-october.jpg”>Evolution of the number of seats for a selection of countries in Europe (in millions – Source : OAG)

14/10/2019 18/10/2021 Difference 2021/2019
Spain 3,309 2,290 -30,80%
Russia 2,390 2,283 -4,50%
United Kingdom 3,549 1,906 -46,30%
Germany 3,412 1,862 -45,40%
Italy 2,345 1,553 -33,80%
France 2,323 1,478 -36,40%