OAG Reports August North American Flight Total Lowest in 10 Years
By James Shillinglaw
August 08, 2012 10:40 PM
In a sign of more airlines cutting capacity, OAG reported that scheduled flight operations within North America will be at their lowest August level in 10 years, according to the latest flight schedule data. The OAG FACTS (Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics) for August 2012 found that this month there will be 953,083 fewer air seats offered within North America compared with August 2011, with 21,401 fewer flights. For the year to date, decreases of 2 percent in flights and 1 percent in seat capacity have been experienced compared with the first eight months of 2011.
"Against the backdrop of a slowing economy the North American region is experiencing general consolidation of its internal scheduled air services," said Rob Shaw, OAG’s director analytics. "This is partly the natural consequence of the well-publicized airline mergers of recent years, but it also reflects the strategy of individual carriers in a tough trading environment: reducing capacity to maintain fares at a profitable level."
Only three of North America's top 10 hubs (San Francisco at 7 percent, Charlotte at 5 percent and Toronto at 4 percent) will show significant growth in seat capacity this month, while capacity at Chicago O'Hare will drop by 3 percent.
North America's flights and seats to and from other worldwide regions will both show a 2 percent increase in August, offering some better news, but the biggest growth in long-haul traffic is seen in the Middle East -- driven largely by the United Arab Emirates and Dubai in particular.
This month will see flight operations to and from the Middle East grow by 7 percent to 64,252, while seat capacity will increase by 9 percent to reach 14,219,564, nearly 4,000 more flights and more than a million more seats offered than in August 2011. Traffic within the Middle East region is also expected to grow by 4 percent (flights) and 3 percent (seats).
The Middle East region's key hubs are all experiencing strong year-on-year growth in August, with Abu Dhabi seeing seats increasing by 248,896 (up 17 percent), Doha by 244,470 (11 percent) and Bahrain by 114,560 (11 percent). By far the strongest performer in the region however is Dubai, with 782,544 additional seats and 2,694 additional flight operations compared with August 2011. Dubai, with its 12 percent increase in flight operations and 14 percent increase in seat capacity, is also showing the fastest growth among the major global air hubs.
Seat capacity at eight of the world's top 10 airports will grow this month. Beijing's year-on-year increase of 8 percent brings it ever closer to Atlanta as the world's largest hub in terms of seats offered, while Tokyo's offering increased by nearly 375,000 seats, up 5 percent on August 2011, securing its status as the world's fourth-largest hub after London-Heathrow.
Worldwide, airlines have increased flights by 16,948 and seats by 9,608,208, taking the total scheduled flight operations for August 2012 to 2,789,437 and the total of seats offered to 361,193,356. This represents growth of 1 percent in flights but 3 percent in seats, which is explained by the increased use of larger aircraft. Average aircraft seat capacity is 129 this month compared with 127 in August 2011. For the year to date, scheduled flights show a growth of 2 percent and seat capacity an increase of 3 percent compared with the January-August period last year.