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Central & South America Show Fastest Growth In Long-Haul Air Travel But A Stagnating Regional Market, Says OAG

Aviation - 1st November 2012

Luton, November 1, 2012: Central and South America will lead the world in November in the growth of long-haul air traffic and capacity, according to the latest statistics from OAG, the market leader in flight schedule data.

However, air traffic within the region will show an overall stagnation, with a decline in the stalling Brazilian domestic market offsetting growth in some neighbouring countries.

The OAG FACTS (Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics) report for November 2012 reveals that flights and seats between Central and South America and other global regions will increase by 8% in the month compared to November 2011 (almost 4,200 extra flights and 706,000 additional seats). This seat capacity growth is significantly above the global average of 2% for November.

The rise in traffic to and from the region reflects strong performances in several areas:

  • In Central America, which enjoys the greatest volume of long-haul capacity in the region, flight numbers will increase by 11% and seats by 12%.
  • The Caribbean will see flights increase by 11% and seat capacity by 10%, driven principally by low-cost carrier (LCC) network expansion.
  • In Upper South America, Colombia’s growth will be notable, with international flights and seat capacity expected to be up by 8%.
  • In Lower South America, Brazil and Chile are expected to be principal contributors to international traffic growth.

This strong international growth will, however, contrast with a weak intra-regional performance for Central and South America. In November, seat capacity within the region will be almost flat, with an increase of just 0.8%, while flight numbers will fall by 0.8%.

Rob Shaw, director of analytics at OAG, says: “The strong growth in international traffic to and from Central and South America is cause for some celebration. Mexico is recovering from a recession that caused seven airlines to collapse, and Panama is also faring better. The Caribbean now has better international connectivity, thanks largely to the network expansion of low-cost carrier Jetblue.

“However, the regional picture is mixed. After years of rapid growth, Brazil’s economy and domestic air market are slowing sharply. In November, the country’s domestic seat capacity will be down 4% from its November 2011 high of 11.3m, while flight numbers will be down 3%, meaning 2,700 fewer flights.

“Brazil’s huge domestic air market is the third largest in the world, after the USA and China, and accounts for 44% of all seats within Central and South America. The reductions in flights and seats therefore serve to mask some better regional performances in markets such as the Caribbean, which will show the greatest intra-regional traffic growth in November, Argentina, where domestic capacity will continue a positive trend with growth of 30%, and Chile.”

Shaw continues: “The slowing of the Brazilian economy has contributed to recent carrier consolidation. In November 2011, there were 19 carriers serving the country’s domestic market, whereas there are currently only 13. With further consolidation underway, we expect to see capacity reductions in Brazil continue into 2013 before the market levels out.”

Other international highlights

Elsewhere in the world, long-haul capacity to and from the Middle East continues its positive trend, with flight numbers expected to increase in November by 4% and seat capacity by 5% compared to November 2011. Air travel between North America and other global regions will also be positive, with flights up 5% and seats up 4%, making November a 10-year high point for North America, both for the month and the year-to-date.

Meanwhile, Asia Pacific remains the fastest growing intra-regional market, with a 5% rise in flight numbers and a 7% jump in seat capacity in the month. The region’s expansion is driven mainly by LCC carriers, which will increase flights by 16% and seats by 24%.

Shaw says: “In Asia Pacific, November will see particularly strong growth in Indonesia, whose rapidly growing economy has seen the country touted as the next Brazil. The volume of domestic airline seats in Indonesia will be up 20% versus November 2011, with 7.2m available in the month. And yet there is still plenty of room for further expansion domestically, as Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world.”

Globally, scheduled airline flights are expected to increase by 0.05% in November 2012 versus November 2011, with seat capacity 2% higher.

An executive summary of OAG FACTS November report is available here.