Airline network planners and airport route developers meet at Routes Americas 2021 in Orlando this week at a critical crossroads in the restoration of the region’s air service.
Total air service capacity across the Americas and Caribbean recovered to almost three-quarters of pre-pandemic levels in June 2021, buoyed by robust domestic markets in the US, Brazil and Mexico.
There were 104.5 million departure seats across the region in the month, 72.8% of the 143.7 million in the same period of 2019 before the impact of COVID-19, according to data from OAG.
The pace of recovery is also improving as markets continue to open and airlines add service. Some 10.3 million seats were added in June, outstripping the 8.5 million increase in May.
The June figure marks a significant rebound year-on-year, growing by 169.2% from the 38.8 million seats available across the region in June 2020.
In the US, capacity in June was 79.6 million seats, 80.5% of the same month in 2019, and is expected to reach 86.7 million in July. Puerto Rico (113.4%) is among a handful of markets to move ahead of 2019 levels, while Mexico (84.5%) and Colombia (78.6%) have remained relatively robust in 2021.
However, substantial variations persist between markets. Uruguay has suffered the greatest proportional loss of service, with the country’s 15,320 seats in June representing just 15.2% of pre-pandemic levels. Cuba (15.5%) and Argentina (18.2%) also remain heavily reduced.
And Canada’s continued closed borders policy, along with the failure of the UK and US governments to establish a date for reopening that market, continues to keep capacity subdued in those critical markets.
The fragmented nature of the recovery means that collaboration and communication remain vital in the aviation industry, according to Routes events director Steven Small.
“There are really encouraging signs of recovery in the market, but this is not the time to be complacent,” he said.
“The air service development industry must keep working together and pushing governments to find solutions to restore routes so that the industry can return to profitability as soon as possible.”
Photo credit: Orlando International Airport