The Global Aviation Market Recovery

By David Hopwood | June 17, 2020

  • Weekly global scheduled capacity is 32.2% compared to a year ago.
  • The world’s busiest airport last week was Guangzhou in China
  • By weekly capacity, Southwest Airlines was the biggest carrier

Beijing is suffering a second wave of coronavirus infections. Chinese authorities have drastically reduced travel outside of the city including a two-thirds reduction in departures from Capital and Daxing airports. In light of this—possibly a second shock to the Asian market—we take a look at the revival thus far of the global commercial aviation market.

  1. Global Departures
  • The week of 27th January 2020 was the point in time immediately before carriers began to reduce capacity as a result of the pandemic. Capacity at that point was higher–at 102%–compared to the same point in 2019: 107 million weekly departure seats. (MDS)
  • The week of 4th May 2020 was the lowest point. Capacity at that point was 28% compared to 2019: 30.6 MWD.
  • The latest data for 8th June 2020, indicates the capacity is at 37.3 MDS, 32% compared to 2019, an increase of 4 percentage points in 5 weeks.
  1. Regional Departures
Region Start of Reduction MDS Bottom of Reduction MDS MDS 8 June
Asia-Pacific 27 January 44.5 20 April 16.9 21.6
Europe 2 March 23.8 20 April 2.6 4.9
North America 16 March 24.5 11 May 5.3 7.3
Latin America 16 March 8.9 18 May 1.0 1.4
Middle East 2 March 4.9 11 May 1.0 1.5
Africa 9 March 3.2 18 May 0.6 0.6


  • The weekly departures in the African region increased by ~50 000 between 18 May and 8 June.
  • From 2nd March to 16th March, weekly departures in North America increased by 3%, whereas in Europe they decreased by 7%
  • From 17th February to 2nd March capacity in Asia-Pacific increased by 11% then fell again.
  1. Week-on-Week Capacity Growth by Country

    Guangzhou Airport © Flickr Commons

Between the 1st and 8th June, the USA added the most seats; 930 000, a 15% increase.  Turkey added the most capacity by percentage, 31% (165 962 seats). China has the most seats available, at 12.4 million.

  1. Busiest Airports

A year ago, the top 10 busiest airports offered a total of 10.5 MDS. Last week the same airports offered 2.67 MDS. Last week the busiest airport in the world was Guangzhou, (CAN) followed by Beijing Capital (PEK) and Tokyo-Haneda (HND)

Data derived from OAG Schedules Analyser. Any interpretation from that data is tentative and subject to the fluid nature of the coronavirus transmission pattern.

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