Scheduled Aviation Bulletin

Commercial airline activity continues to buckle, especially in Europe

For the first 5 weeks of 2021 global scheduled airline traffic was down 50.8% on 2020 levels. Just under 19,000 aircraft were active and operated just over 1.3 million flights. The Covid-19 pandemic has had significant effect on scheduled aviation in Europe, arguably the worst affected region with traffic levels 71.2% lower than the first 5 weeks of 2020. The picture in North America, South America and Oceania is by no means positive, but a significant improvement on European traffic levels. Departures from North American airports were down 49.2% on 2020, Africa 54.9% and Oceania 49.8%. Finally, departures from South America were 36.1% lower than 2020 and Asia experienced a 36.6% decrease in departures compared to 2020.

North America and Asia make up the majority of worldwide departures, with a 40% and 35% share respectively.

Chart 1 – Global scheduled traffic snapshot for weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)

North America

534,508 flights departed North America in the first 5 weeks of 2021, with an average sector length of 2.12 hours. Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Intl (KATL,ATL), Dallas Fort Worth Intl (KDFW,DFW) and Denver Intl (KDEN,DEN) were the top 3 departed from airports, each down 31.8%, 18.5% and 26.3% on the same period in 2020.

Internal flights in the United States were down 43% on 2020 levels and departures into neighbours Canada and Mexico down 88% and 13.3% respectively. Internal flights in Canada and Mexico are significantly lower than 2020, Canada is down 74.4% and Mexico 70.5%.

Chart 2 – Top 5 operators in North America for weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)

With an average sector length in the region of 2.12hours it is no surprise that single aisle aircraft and regional airlines dominate.

Chart 3 – Top 5 aircraft types flown in North America for weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.2.21 – 7.2.21)

Asia

473,701 flights departed Asia in the first 5 weeks of 2021, with an average sector length of 2.17 hours. Guangzhou Baiyun Intl (ZGGG,CAN), Indira Gandhi Intl ,New Delhi (VIDP,DEL) and Shenzhen Bao’an Intl (ZGSZ,SZX) were the top 3 departed from airports.  Guangzhou Baiyun Intl and Indira Gandhi Intl departures were down 1.4% and 35.3% compared to 2020, Shenzhen Bao’an Intl experienced a 12.8% growth compared to 2020.

China, India and Japan were the top 3 countries in terms of departures. Flights departing from China grew 39.7% percent compared to 2020. Internal flights were 74.2% higher in 2021 compared to 2020. China also saw growth in departures to Iran (67.3%), Iraq (100%), Israel (56.8%), Kenya (140%), Qatar (22.6%) and the United Kingdom (0.8%) compared to 2020.

Interestingly, departures from 4 out of the 5 busiest airlines in Asia increased compared to the same period in 2020.

Chart 4 – Top 5 operators in Asia for weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)

Similarly to North America, narrow body aircraft dominate departures in the Asia region.

Chart 5 – Top 5 aircraft types in Asia for weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)

Africa

23,992 flights departed Africa in the first 5 weeks of 2021 with an average sector length of 3.03 hours. Cairo Intl (HECA,CAI), Addis Ababa Bole Intl (HAAB,ADD) and Mohammed V Intl (GMMN,CMN) were the top 3 airports in terms of departures. When compared to 2020, the airports saw a 39%, 28.9% and 55% decrease in departures. Internal flights in South Africa made up the largest percentage of flights departing in the region (7.39%). Morocco – France was a close second at 4.27%. Egypt – Saudi Arabia completed the top 3 with 3.98% of all flights departing the region.

Chart 6 – Top 5 operators in Africa for weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)
Chart 7 – Top 5 aircraft models flown in weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)

Europe

195,320 flights departed from European airports in the first 5 weeks of 2021 with an average sector length of 2.22 hours. Istanbul (LTFM,IST),  Amsterdam Schiphol  (EHAM,AMS) and Charles de Gaulle Intl (LFPG,CDG) were the most departed from airports in the region, each down 57.4%, 65.9% and 67.2% on the same period in 2020.

Internal flights in Russia accounted for 15.38% of flights in the region, down 15% compared to the same period in 2020. 8 Countries experienced an 85% or more decrease in departures:

  • Faroe Islands (-100%)
  • Slovakia (-92.3%)
  • Hungary (-89.5%)
  • Iceland (-88.0%)
  • Cyprus (-86.4%)
  • Latvia (-86.2%)
  • Czech Republic (-86.2%)
  • Austria (-85.8%)

European G7 nations also experienced significant drops in departures compared to 2020; United Kingdom (-84.8%), Germany (-82.3%), Italy (-79.7%) and France (-68.3%).

Chart 8 – Top 5 operators in Europe in weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)
Chart 9 – Top 5 aircraft types flown in Europe in weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)

Oceania

42,340 flights departed from Oceania airports in the first 5 weeks of 2021 with an average sector length of 1.72 hours. Brisbane Intl (YBBN,BNE), Melbourne Intl (YMML,MEL) and Auckland Intl (NZAA,AKL) were the most departed from airports in the region, each down 49.5%, 64.9% and 47.7% on the same period in 2020.

Australia and New Zealand internal flights make up a significant percentage (92.8%) of flights in the region. Internal flights in Australia are down 48% compared to 2020, internal flights in New Zealand are down 14.6%. Flights between Australia and New Zealand are down 88.6% compared to 2020.

Chart 10 – Top 5 operators in Oceania for weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)
Chart 11 – Top 5 aircraft types flown in Oceania for weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)

Chart 11 shows regional turboprops are flying a larger percentage of flights in Oceania than other regions.

South America

73,875 flights departed South American airports in the first 5 weeks of 2021 with an average sector length of 1.80 hours. Guarulhos – Governador André Franco Montoro Intl (SBGR, GRU), El Dorado Intl (SKBO,BOG) and Viracopos Intl (SBKP,VCP) were the most departed from airports, each down 34.8%, 37.6% and 3.5% compared to the same period in 2020.

Internal flights in Brazil made up the majority of flights in the region, despite being down 25.4% compared to the same period in 2020. Flights from Chile to the United States increased by 15.9% compared to the same period in 2020.

Chart 12 – Top 5 operators in South America for weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)
Chart 13 – Top 5 aircraft types flown in South America for weeks 1-5 in 2021*
*ISO8601 week date system (4.1.21 – 7.2.21)


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