Trans-Atlantic system seats hit new monthly high in Jul-2018; Delta remains the largest airline but its share is shrinking

This month will represent the 65th consecutive month of increasing year-on-year trans-Atlantic air capacity between Europe and North America as the low cost long haul model and the continued maturity of the famous market sees airlines offer a record number of seats. After breaking through the ten million system seat milestone in Jul-2016, the 11 million figure was surpassed in Jul-2018 and levels remain at this new high for the current month, analysis of OAG schedule data shows.


Summary:

  • Analysis of schedule data by The Blue Swan Daily shows that trans-Atlantic system seats are growing faster across the first seven months of 2018 than the same period last year;
  • Last month (July-2018) was the first to see more than 11 million available system seats, a level that is expected to also be exceeded in Aug-2018, based on published schedules;
  • The number of seats between Europe and North America has grown by more than a third (+39.7%) since the first year of the decade;
  • 2018 will see the greatest level of trans-Atlantic seasonality this decade with the busiest month seeing almost double the system capacity available during the quietest month.

The analysis of current and historic flight schedules by The Blue Swan Daily shows that trans-Atlantic capacity is growing faster in 2018 than it did last year, up +7.0% year-on-year across the first seven months of 2018, versus the +6.0% rise seen in 2017. However, this is down on the decade high level of +7.3% recorded in 2016. It marks a fifth year of consecutive rises for the period after the annual declines recorded in 2012 and 2013.

Trans-Atlantic system seats rose +6.3% year-on-year in Jul-2018 and are forecast to increase +5.6% in Aug-2018, based on published schedules. While this is an encouraging rate of growth, there has been a slowing in monthly levels since May-2018 when rates hit a high of +8.5%, their highest monthly year-on-year growth since Oct-2016.

CHART – Aug-2018 will be the 65th consecutive month of year-on-year trans-Atlantic capacity growth between Europe and North America that dates back to Apr-2013Source: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

Air capacity between Europe and North America has now been in growth since Apr-2013, having previously reported almost a year-and-a-half of year-on-year seat reductions. In fact, the number of seats between Europe and North America has actually grown by more than a third (+39.7%) since the first year of the decade (Jan-Jul-2018 versus Jan-Jul-2010).

Interestingly, significant seasonal demand issues mean that capacity in the peak months of July, August and September are almost double those on offer in the quietest month, February. This year that seasonality has reached a decade high due to the expanded summer offerings between Europe and Canada and the United States of America (USA).

CHART – 2018 will see the greatest level of trans-Atlantic seasonality this decade with the busiest month seeing almost double the system capacity available during the quietest month

Source: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

The US majors remain the top three operators between Europe and North America and accounted for more than a quarter (29.3% share) of the total trans-Atlantic capacity in this market across the first seven months of 2018. This has fallen by more than one full percentage points from a 30.4% share over the same period in 2017.

Delta Air Lines remained the market leader with a 11.0% share in Jul-2018 (versus 11.6% in Jul-2017), ahead of United Airlines with 9.3% (versus 9.5%) and American Airlines with 8.9% (versus 9.3%). British Airways is the largest operator from the European side of the Atlantic with a 8.2% share, while Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air France, Virgin Atlantic and Air Transat make up the top ten.