The Covid-19 crisis has left the global aviation industry reeling, in the wake of unprecedented capacity cuts across the world, leading to a 77 per cent collapse in global aviation year-on-year, found a report by ForwardKeys.
In the first week of April, international airline seat capacity fell to just 23 per cent of what it was during the same time last year. Just 10 million seats were still in service to facilitate essential travel, compared with 44.2 million a year ago.
In 1Q2020, airline seat capacity is 9.4 per cent down, with 482 million seats in service, compared with 532 million in the same period last year.
Despite an uptick in capacity at the start of January, compared to last year, it started to fall during the last week of the month when the Chinese government announced restrictions on outbound travel.
Following after until mid-March, air capacity fell substantially, and tumbled precipitously to the end of the month.
Olivier Ponti, vice president Insights, ForwardKeys, said: “Governments have closed entire countries; and in response, the airline industry has cut services to the bone. It is likely that when we get to the other side of the pandemic, things won’t return to the vibrant market conditions we had at the start of the year, anywhere near as easily as some people imagine.
“By then, it is possible that a number of airlines will have gone bust; consumers will have lost confidence in flying and uneconomic discounts will be necessary to attract demand back.”
The top ten airlines still operating in the first week of April (March 30 to April 5) are KLM, with 800,000 seats still in service; Qatar Airways, with nearly 500,000 seats in service; and Ryanair, with 400,000.
They are followed in descending order by Delta, Air France, American, BA, Wizz Air, Cathay Pacific and Jeju. However, this picture will change soon, as Ryanair recently announced that almost its entire fleet will be grounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.