Global airline capacity fell in the second week of January as travel restrictions impact markets across the world. The 7.2 percent decrease, one of the largest week-on-week drops in the last six months according to OAG, worries industry leaders and experts.
Total airline capacity fell to just under 78 million seats in the second week of 2022, a 7.2 percent decrease over the previous week. However, the capacity expected for February is still higher than for 2021, with 346.9 million seats in comparison to the 204.9 million seen last year. In its optimistic forecasts, OAG predicts a 70 percent improvement year-on-year. But should travel restrictions continue, capacity could be 14 percent below the 2020 high watermark, warns OAG.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, capacity decreased by 7 percent in part because the holiday season ended. At the moment, South East Asia is leading the list of capacity losses with only 47 percent of seats back on sale. Meanwhile, Western Europe is “only” 7.8 million seats adrift of its normal levels.
Airlines are cautious of adding more seats and are expected to remain so until the middle of February, said OAG, which forecasts limited capacity until the sector receives positive news. Experts suggest waiting for the results of 1Q2022 before speculating about the rest of the year.
The spread of the Omicron variant is also affecting Mexico, which this week broke its record of daily detected cases three times in a row. This situation has led six airlines to cancel 559 flights at Mexico City International Airport (AICM). Considering the reduced availability in flights and the high number of infections, Mexico’s Union Association of Flight Attendants (ASSA) invited its members to join a 100-hour voluntary program during January and February, reported by A21.
Airlines are not the only ones affected as passengers also face uncertainty about the status of previously purchased flights, as reported by MBN. Prices could also increase following the rise of Airport Use Fees (TUA) in the AICM by 6.2 percent. Businesses operating in the airport are also racking up debt due to the lack of passengers.