Continuing problems within the U.S. economy are impacting airline operations with worse than expected declines in airline capacity this winter. The number of domestic flights is set to fall by almost 11 percent and capacity by 9 percent in the 4th quarter of 2008 compared to a year ago, according to OAG (Official Airline Guide) in its revised analysis of the global travel industry's published flight schedules.
Winter schedules on a global scale show a 5.2 percent decline in capacity and a 6.1 percent decline in the number of flights, better than previously predicted. The U.S. domestic market will account for 46 percent of the global decline, and a staggering 59 percent of the global drop in frequencies.
Flights and capacity within Europe are also showing worsening cutbacks. Figures for intra-Europe flights are now 5 percent lower than for Q4 2007 and seat capacity is now 5.6 percent lower. For Asia, the OAG expects a 6.5 percent fall in capacity and a 7.1 percent drop in the number of flights.
The effect of what is happening within the U.S. and Europe is seen by the shift on transatlantic and transpacific routes. In August, OAG figures showed that both were showing some growth. The latest figures reveal a capacity reduction of 2.9 percent for transatlantic capacity and a drop of 3.1 percent on transpacific routes.
The impact of capacity cutbacks on the world's airports remains high. OAG's analysis reveals that 219 of the world's airports are losing scheduled air service altogether, compared to the August figure of 275. Of these, 15 percent are in the U.S., 43 percent are in the Asia Pacific region and 21 percent are in Europe.
The OAG analysis takes into account all future schedules filed by the airlines to date to provide a comprehensive snapshot of planned airline activity for October to December 2008 with comparisons tracking back 10 years. Analysis of airports projected to lose air service was made by comparing December 07 to December 08.