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European airline capacity continues slow climb as UK partially reopens

The UK has made its first, small, steps to reopening non-essential international services from 17-May-2021. Its green list of countries accounted for only 4.9% of total UK capacity in 2019, and includes countries where there is no reciprocal reopening (e.g. Australia) and where geopolitical risks have rapidly reduced demand (e.g. Israel).

Nevertheless, capacity between the UK and Portugal, the most significant green list market, will multiply by more than 19 times in the space of a fortnight. Total UK seat capacity is 1.8 times higher week-on-week in the week of 17-May-2021, but it is still 83.2% below 2019 levels.

Capacity in Europe overall is 66.6% below capacity in 2019. This rate of decline has now narrowed for four straight weeks, but Europe is still far behind other regions.

The next weakest is Middle East, where capacity is down by 49.8% versus 2019, while Africa is down by 46.6%, Latin America by 40.8%, Asia Pacific by 35.1%, and North America by 31.8%.


  • Europe has 11.2 million seats vs 33.4 million in the same week of 2019 – down 67%.
  • Europe is still far behind other regions, but the gap has narrowed a little.
  • Eastern/Central Europe is at a higher percentage of 2019 capacity than Western Europe.
  • Greece and Portugal have highest percentage of 2019 seats among leading Western European nations.
  • UK-Portugal capacity is growing rapidly, but UK is still on only 17% of 2019 capacity.

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