Airline capacity cuts: The bleeding may have stopped, says OAG

Looks like the airline capacity cuts have stopped — for now.

Global airline capacity for October 2009 is showing slightly positive growth, according to the latest figures from OAG. They rose by 1.04 percent this month, compared with last October, but down slightly from September’s growth of 1.4 percent.

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In raw numbers, the world’s airlines have 299.9 million seats available this month, or 3,091,580 more seats that they did in October 2008.

David Beckerman, the vice president for OAG Market Intelligence, put the numbers into perspective:

We’re seeing continued growth in global capacity even with slight decreases in frequency across Europe and North America as we go into fall, which would tend to indicate a trend towards re-evaluating less popular routes.

Frequencies are marginally down compared to October 2008. The world’s airlines have scheduled a total of 2.4 million flights for October 2009, down by 1 percent (24,445 fewer flights) compared with the same month last year.

Last month, the year on year global frequency figure was down by 0.6 percent and capacity was up by 1.4 percent.

The low cost sector is slowing in growth as a whole however; growth is strong in the Middle East with 12 percent more flights, Latin America with 54 percent international and 48 percent domestic capacity growth, and Africa with 9 percent increase in flights.

In other words, the cutbacks may have stopped worldwide, but we aren’t out of the woods in the United States. We probably have a long, difficult winter ahead. That’s bad news for airlines, but for customers, it may signal the availability of some great deals through 2010.

We shall see.