Navigating the Storm – Commercial Aviation Starting to See Some Blue Sky on Horizon

Ricardo Milani

Santa Cruz

February 17, 2021

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The pandemic produced by the coronavirus continues to hit the global commercial aviation industry hard.  Let me share some excellent data for February 2021, produced by the OAG team. As a result of the second wave experienced specially in the winter of the northern hemisphere, the number of seats offered in February 2021 has decreased by 47.4% compared to the same month in 2020, and 14.3% measure up to January 2021.  Based on the current outlook, this fall could be even greater, although there has been an increase in seats offered (4.9%) in the North East region, compared to the same month in 2020 when airlines in that region drastically reduced their offer due to the high infection rate. The rest of the regions worldwide have declined compared to February 2020. According to the graph shown above, the number of seats available in January and February this year, we will notice that all regions have declined. Observing in detail we will see that the region most affected has been Europe, with a drop of 25.3% in the Western Europe region, and 20.3% Eastern and Central Europe, between January and February. Continuing the list that reflects the low in seats offered, considering the negative impact from highest to lowest in percentage; Latin America has high numbers, especially in the southern cone has suffered the fall of 20.8% and the Upper Region 15.6%.   Below is the Asia Northeast region 17.8%. North America with 8.5% which represents approximately 4M seats less. With regards to the offer in January 2021, in February most major airlines in the world have reduced their seat offer, with the exception of JetBlue which increased its seat offer by 5.1%.   As we have clarified when we explain the decline in seat offer in February could have been greater, were it not for the increase in the seat offer of North West Asian airlines, during this month; the following graphic shows it: When it comes to airports, the reduction in traffic in China has positions Atlanta as the busiest airport by volume of seats (approx. 3M) in Feb. 2021, however the numbers show a 9.3% reduction compared to January 2021. As for the future, it is still a little uncertain.  On the pessimistic side we see that new strains of COVID-19 have appeared; as well as the continuous high number of infected in several countries, this is because tests have increased dramatically. On the positive side, much of the world has started with the application of preventive vaccines as well as many communities have understood and assumed the new normal, taking care of themselves and others. Although a modest recovery, this gives us hope that our beloved industry will gradually begin its rebound. It is going to be a long journey to put the COVID19 ordeal behind us and focus on rebuilding the trust of the travelling public.  It is in all of us to take care of ourselves to speed up this process.