COVID-19: Europe market update (w/e March 29)

Routes' weekly update on how airlines and airports across Europe are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Welcome to Routes’ weekly look at how Europe's aviation market is responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, helping you understand the schedule changes and manage the impact so we can navigate through this crisis together.

 The data is supplied by OAG using its OAG Schedules Analyser tool unless stated. Please note: the COVID-19 crisis remains fluid as airlines around the world continue to make dramatic capacity cuts. OAG has taken several steps to ensure the data is as accurate as possible. 

European capacity

Carriers last week (w/c March 23) slashed scheduled capacity from and within Europe by 50%, equating to 10 million departure seats, as countries across the continent closed their borders to halt the spread of COVID-19. In Western Europe, week-on-week capacity fell by 53% to 7.6 million seats, while in Central and Eastern Europe the drop was 37% to 2.2 million. Looking at the planned capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak, carriers originally intended to offer 20.8 million seats from and within Western Europe, and 3.8 million from and within Central and Eastern Europe.

The OAG data shows that capacity in the UK—Europe’s largest market—fell by 44% last week compared with the previous seven days to fewer than 1.5 million departure seats. In Germany, capacity dropped by 59% week-on-week, and in Spain the market reduced by 67.7%.

European airlines

The majority of airlines made huge reductions to their schedules last week, with Ryanair recording a more than 83% drop in week-on-week capacity, falling to just 268,380 seats. The Irish LCC is continuing to operate a limited schedule from March 30 to April 9, although 90% of its aircraft are grounded “for the coming weeks.”

“We are working with EU governments to try to keep some minimum flight links open for emergency reasons, even though the passenger loads on these flights will be very low,” Ryanair said.

EasyJet’s capacity fell 57.9% and the airline has now grounded its fleet of more than 330 aircraft. Over recent days the airline has been helping to repatriate customers, having operated more than 650 rescue flights to date, returning about 45,000 passengers home. The last of these rescue flights was operated on March 29.

According to schedules data filed during the first week of February 2020, easyJet planned to operate 12,118 scheduled flights this week (w/c March 30) and offer 2.1 million seats.

Elsewhere, SAS last week cut its weekly capacity from Europe by 636,492 seats, or 83.2%, to record the third-largest drop.

Photo credit: Nigel Howarth