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New aircraft and low cost airline carriers see air passenger growth

The world’s airlines have scheduled 4% more capacity on 2.5% more flights in November 2011, marking six consecutive months of growth compared to the same period last year, according to the latest statistics from OAG, a UBM Aviation brand.

With airlines adding more routes, services and larger aircraft there has been a growth in air travel but figures show its not all long-haul business class passengers that are adding to figures.

The OAG FACTS (Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics) report for November reveals that 59,639 more scheduled flights offering 11 million more seats will operate this month, totaling 312.7 million seats on 2.4 million flights. Capacity growth continues to be driven by ‘next-generation’ aircraft, such as the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental and the Airbus A380 jetliner, which carry more passengers than the older models that are being replaced. Average seats per flight in November total 126, compared to 125 a year ago.

Regionally, Asia Pacific remains the largest aviation market overall, with 35.6% share of worldwide seat capacity. The intra-Asia Pacific region also retains its leading position in total seat volumes, growing 8% to nearly 96 million seats in November 2011 compared to November 2010, comprising 30.6% of the worldwide seat share. Intra-North America is the second-highest seat volume region, at 23%, but recorded a decline of 2.1% versus the year-ago period. ‘To/From Africa,’ ‘Within North America,’ and ‘Within Europe’ all registered a decline in frequency of 6.0%, 2.7%, and 0.6% respectively compared to the same period last year.

“Economic instability and political unrest have begun to hamper both business and leisure travel demand in the U.S., Europe and Africa, and we expect to see ongoing declines in seat and frequency growth rates in these regions compared to the worldwide average,” said Peter von Moltke, Chief Executive Officer, UBM Aviation.

“That said, we are witnessing history in Asia, where an incremental 2.9 million seats were added by just 6 airports year-over-year in November. The possible impact of an economic crisis aside, the increasing travel demand to, from and within Asia Pacific and other developing countries will sustain the industry’s overall growth for a long time to come.”

In November 2011, Low Cost Carriers have a worldwide schedule capacity share of 24% — a marginal 1% improvement over the previous year, driven by slowing growth in Europe and North America. However, LCCs’ worldwide share of capacity and frequency has more than doubled in less than a decade, growing from 10% capacity share in November 2002 to 24% in November 2011, and 8% frequency share in Nov. 2002 to 20% this month. The Middle East, Central & South America, and Asia Pacific continue to lead LCC seat capacity growth, posting 20%, 18.5% and 17.1% increases respectively over November 2010.

Major Hub Airports

The world’s busiest airport (by passenger traffic), Atlanta, saw a 3% decline in schedule frequency and 1% decline in seat capacity. Beijing, second in passenger traffic volume, is catching up with 1% and 3% growth in schedule frequency and seat capacity respectively. London Heathrow remains the third-busiest passenger airport in the world, recording a marginal decrease in schedule frequency but a marginal increase in seat capacity.

Based on annual growth rate of seat capacity among the world’s key hub airports in November 2011, Tirana (TIA) once again recorded the highest growth rate of 65%, followed by Mexico City (38%) and Tallinn (37%). Tripoli suffered the biggest decline in seat capacity, 93%, compared to the same period last year, as well as the highest decline in schedule frequency.

In terms of schedule frequency, Tirana Airport achieved the highest growth rate of 57% over November 2010, followed by Montevideo (50%) and Islamabad (45%).


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