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Economic Uncertainty Hampers January Seat Capacity Within North America, Says OAG

Aviation - 15th January 2013

Asia Pacific’s Intra-Regional Growth Driving Global Airline Capacity

Luton, UK, 15 January 2013: The ongoing financial instability in the United States has contributed to seat capacity within North America reaching its lowest January level in the last decade, according to the latest statistics from OAG, the market leader in aviation data and analysis.

The OAG FACTS (Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics) report for January 2013 reveals that a total of 72.2 million seats will be available on flights within the continent during the first month of the year. This represents a ten-year low and a decrease of 12.5% versus pre-recession January 2008 levels.

In contrast, the total number of seats to and from North America in January 2013 will increase by 2% versus January 2012, with capacity expected to exceed 18.2 million seats.

John Grant, executive vice president, OAG says: “The fall in seat capacity within North America is reflective of the depressed consumer and business confidence in the region, which is intrinsically linked to the financial backdrop in the United States. The political wrangling on the ‘fiscal cliff’ deal has done little to instil confidence, and it remains to be seen what impact this will have on air travel in the coming months.

“Seat capacity to and from North America paints a very different picture, however. The 2% increase in January seat capacity on flights to and from the region is significant because it will see this market reach its highest January point in 10 years.”

Global capacity growth
In contrast to North America, the Asia Pacific market will see the biggest regional increase in seat capacity in January 2013. Carriers operating within Asia Pacific will add an additional 8.9 million seats this January compared to the same month last year. This translates to an 8.8% increase in seats, while frequency is also expected to see strong growth, with 49,000 additional flights.

Meanwhile, intra-regional seat capacity in Europe and the Middle East will decline by 2% during the same period, while the Central and South America market will see a 1% decrease. Intra-regional seats in Africa are expected to remain at the same level as January 2012.

Airline seats to and from each of the regions will increase in January 2013, with the Middle East (8%), Central and South America (5%), Asia Pacific (3%), Africa (3%) and Europe (1%) all adding capacity.

Grant says: “January 2013 will see a 3% increase in global capacity in comparison to January 2012, which equates to about 8.5 million seats, or an extra 24,000 seats per day. The majority of this extra capacity is continuing to go into emerging markets, with much of that growth in the low-cost sector.

“The Middle East continues to be one of the fastest-growing markets in the world, with carriers such as Etihad, Qatar Airways and Emirates reaffirming the position of the Middle East as a transit point for traffic around the world.”

An executive summary of the OAG FACTS January report is available here.