Coronavirus statistics snapshot – the rise in flights returns this week but its barely noticeable. A similar decline in capacity shows the safety line is firmly attached as increased rates of infections hit many countries
Last week we questioned if the recovery in air travel had reached as good as its gets as the industry adapts to the ‘new normal’ environment? After three months of growth flight levels were down -0.1% week-on-week – a mere 150 flight frequencies – and capacity down less than half one per cent (-0.4%). The stalling of growth in a peak August travel week prompted thoughts. Was this an anomaly? Has growth plateaued or are we poised for another tipping point?
This week has not really provided any clear answers, but perhaps slightly reduced the likelihood of the first or last scenario. The Blue Swan Daily analysis of OAG schedule data for the week commencing 17-Aug-2020 shows that global flight frequencies may have returned to the positive, but only just and approaching the 414,000. The 500 frequency rise on last week more than covers the small decline seen in the week commencing 10-Aug-2020, but represents just a +0.1% rise.
The small frequency growth has been mirrored by a similar marginal decline in capacity for the week commencing 17-Aug-2020 with scheduled seats down almost 68,000 on the prior seven days, a -0.1% fall and maintaining level below the 60 million figure that was first surpassed since Mar-2020 in the week commencing 03-Aug-2020.
This week’s schedules show a continued churn in frequencies with around 14,000 flights removed since the start of last week, when a growth of +3.5% was projected. This could be a warning for what we can expect next week with frequencies currently due to increase +2.3% and capacity +2.5%, respectively. Airlines may have got a better handle on future schedule planning, or if the churn continues at similar rates it will see another week of declines, and that would be a third successive for capacity, albeit at very shallow levels.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “a once-in-a-century health crisis,” and warns that the effects of it “will be felt for decades to come”. Many countries that believed they were past the worst are now grappling with new outbreaks. Some that were less affected in the earliest weeks are now seeing escalating numbers of cases and deaths, while some that had large outbreaks have brought them under control. It appears that right now a little knowledge may prove to be a dangerous thing.
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