Airlines set to hit pre-Covid capacity this year, says report

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Global airline passenger capacity could exceed pre-Covid levels in 2022, says analyst IBA.

In its report on trends in capacity and demand, it predicts that US and European low-cost carrier capacity will exceed pre-Covid levels this year, driven by buoyant travel demand in domestic and intra-EU markets, and relatively light travel restrictions.

It adds that demand for transatlantic flights could recover to 2019 levels this year – a particularly positive development for the three major European network carriers, notably, IAG, whose transatlantic capacity is set to reach pre-pandemic levels by the summer .

Airlines in the US will recover fastest with some North American operators expected to reach or approach pre-pandemic levels in 2022. Capacity at Delta and United Airlines is predicted to reach 90% and 105% respectively. Capacity at Spirit Airlines reached 110% in the last quarter of 2021.

But airlines in the Asia Pacific region will recover slower than the industry average – Qantas Group’s capacity is expected to reach 45% of 2019 levels in 2022, whilst Singapore Airlines was at 43% in December 2021. Hub carriers based in the Middle East will also feel this impact given typical airline passenger flows.

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