Coronavirus statistics snapshot – the stable skies are back as the recovery again shows a small slide with flight frequencies slipping less than one per cent; an eighth small slip in ten weeks, but levels remain above 400,000 weekly departures

14 October, 2020

We continue to be bang on trend - in such an unprecedented time it is positive to be able to say that! Just like the stepped growth at the start of Aug-2020 that was followed by shallow declines in flight frequencies over the remainder of the month and through Sep-2020, we are seeing the same occur in Oct-2020.

The shift from Sep-2020 to Oct-2020 had brought the first rise in weekly flight levels - after five successive week-on-week declines - but these have been followed by very small declines for two consecutive weeks. Last week's -0.2% decline may have more than doubled for the week commencing 12-Oct-2020 but it remains marginally below -0.5% and weekly frequencies are still above 400,000.

Corporate Travel Community (CTC) analysis of OAG schedule data for the week commencing 12-Oct-2020 shows that global flight frequencies have declined -0.5% with just under 2,000 fewer departures than the previous week. Total global weekly departures slip from just over 405,500 to nearing 403,750, keeping above the 400,000 level, for the ninth time in eleven weeks.

This week's story is again one of improved gains across South America as nations start to restore air connectivity and reductions across Europe post the summer peak and where a second Covid-19 wave appears to be growing in ferocity.

Latin America again leads the way but rates of growth have slipped below the +7% figure after two successive weeks (+7.6% in the week commencing 28-Sep-2020 and +7.3% last week) … but only just at +6.5%.

Lower South America follows last week's +12.1% rise and over 950 additional departures with a +12.6% rise and over 1,100 more departures. This was only exceeded in scale by North America where a +1.3% week-on-week growth added over 1,300 additional flights. Upper South America almost also delivered double-digit growth with a +9.6% rise.

At the other end of the scale flight frequencies are expectedly down in North East Asia following the uplift seen during China's Golden Week holiday, albeit the -2.3% decline is responsible for the loss of approaching 3000 flight frequencies. A -2.8% decline in Western Europe and -3.0% fall in Central and Eastern Europe sees a combined reduction of more than 2,100 flights.

After mixed routines from Africa's regions in recent weeks, all geographical areas deliver stable performance in the current week with North(+4.0%) and Southern Africa (+4.3%) showing the strongest levels of growth. The Middle East also sees little change in flight levels, a+0.3% rise delivers 30 more frequencies than last week, but levels remain below 10,000.

The reduction in the number of weekly flight departures from each of the 25 largest aviation markets is lower than the levels seen as the pandemic had its strongest impact, but the recovery in flight levels has stalled over recent months and still remains a long way down on levels seen last year (Source: Corporate Travel Community (CTC) and OAG - data: 12-Oct-2020)

The topsy-turvy trajectory of the recovery among the world's largest aviation economies continues to shift between positive and negative. This week six of the top ten markets show growth and four declines. Brazil +9.3% and India +3.7% see the strongest growth, China the largest decline -2.6%. Notably, despite a small reduction in flights (-0.1%), Spain actually jumps above Turkey and the United Kingdom back into the top ten in virtue of the latter seeing larger declines - -2.7% and -9.1% (the largest among the top 25), respectively.

Alongside the UK, among the top 25, there is also a notable decline in New Zealand (-7.7%), while just outside, Malaysia (-24.4%), and further down the list, Myanamar (-25.9%), see sizeable week-on-week declines in frequencies. Meanwhile, a more than quadrupling in flights in Argentina (+335.5%) and a seven-fold rise in Trinidad & Tobago (+627.8%) dominate the gains, with Colombia (+17.6%), Nepal (+20.9%), Morocco (+14.7%), Panama (+15.5%) among those recording double-digit week-on-week rises.

Global air capacity collapsed as the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the world. After an initial stabilisation stage, we had until Aug-2020 seen continued steps of recovery, followed by a plateauing and a slow downhill slide in capacity levels. After another small step up as we entered Oct-2020 we are seeing another slow downhill slide in capacity levels (Source: Corporate Travel Community (CTC) and OAG - data: 12-Oct-2020)

Last week's modest declines of -0.2% in flight frequencies and -0.3% in seat capacity had actually delivered the best year-on-year performance levels of the recovery. This week the larger -0.5% and -0.8% declines, respectively mean modest declines in year-on-year levels. Flight frequencies are down -46.4% year-on-year, a -0.1 percentage point fall on last week, while capacity levels are down -48.5%, a -0.3 percentage point decline on last week.