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CAPA - Centre for Aviation

  • Type: Aviation Suppliers

Europe's airline capacity slides back towards lowest since Apr-2020

Expressed as a percentage of 2019 levels, Europe's airline seat capacity is sliding back towards its lowest levels since the first lockdown in Apr-2020.

In the week of 19-Apr-2021, seat capacity in Europe is 73.6% below the equivalent week of 2019 and not far from the -75% region it occupied for much of Feb-2021 and Mar-2021, before staging a very modest recovery.

For more than six months Europe has been far below other regions on this measure. Africa capacity is down by 54.5% versus 2019, Middle East by 52.3%, Latin America by 48.3%, North America by 38.0%, and Asia Pacific by 31.0%.

Data from the CAPA Fleet Database show that Europe also lags the rest of the world on the share of its aircraft that are in service. As at 19-Apr-2021, 61% of European operators' passenger jets are in service, versus a global average of 72%.

Europe's LCCs and legacy airlines currently have a similar percentage in service, but LCCs have varied this percentage more throughout the crisis. The leading European LCCs have better liquidity and lower costs and are generally more adaptable to demand fluctuations.


  • Europe has 8.5 million seats vs 32.3 million in the same week of 2019, down 74%. Europe continues to underperform against other regions.
  • Europe's active passenger jet fleet has increased during 2021 so far, but is still below the world average as a percentage of total fleet.
  • Europe's LCCs have a similar percentage of jets in service to legacy airlines, but have varied this more throughout the crisis.

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