Charting the trends – domestic travel had been the only bright light for much of 2020, but even that started to go dim towards the end of the year

The current crisis has created an industry downturn much bigger than many had expected and placed a much stronger importance on domestic travel flows. With quarantines and heavier border restrictions limiting international travel, domestic travel had been the only bright light for much of 2020, but latest data from International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows even that went dim in the latter stages of 2020.

Its latest passenger performance data covers Nov-2020 and shows that the domestic travel recovery effectively stopped in Nov-2020. International traffic was down -88% year-on-year, while the domestic recovery halted at a decline of around -41%. IATA’s chief economist Brian Pearce notes there were “setbacks” in the major Chinese and Russian domestic markets in Nov-2020, due to “virus challenges”, highlighting that even domestic air travel markets remain vulnerable to virus control problems.

They say ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. In this regular section CTC – Corporate Travel Community offers a graphical insight into a key industry observation or trend. In this latest edition we use OAG schedule data to explore domestic seat capacity through 2020 and into 2021 and highlight how the world’s largest domestic markets were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

This regular section also now incorporates and expands on the charts produced in the 2020 air capacity series ‘Coronavirus Statistics Snapshot’. These include a weekly look at how the pandemic is impacting global flight levels in the world’s largest markets; a week-on-week and year-on-year comparison of flight departures by geographical region and a look at how weekly capacity is trending: the latter comparing levels to 2020 and also to the 2019 baseline performance.

HEADLINE FIGURES FOR WEEK COMMENCING 11-Jan-2021:

Departure frequencies down -5.68% versus last week; down -45.97% versus 2020 and down -44.91% versus 2019.

Seat capacity down -6.78% versus last week; down -48.28% versus 2020 and down -46.51% versus 2019.

CHART: Week-on-week change in flight departures by region

CHART: Year-on-year weekly departure performance for world’s top 30 markets versus 2019

CHART: Year-on-year weekly departure performance for world’s top 30 markets versus 2020

CHART: Departure capacity trends with year-on-year performance

CHART: Departure capacity trends versus 2019

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