OAG Reports Declining Seat Capacity within Central America

Recent Merger Proposals to Change North America Travel

Oct 06, 2010, 11:21 ET from OAG

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Scheduled seat capacity within Central America took a severe hit in October, dropping 17%, or declining 604,228 seats to a total of three million in October 2010. Frequency declined 10%, or by 4,318 scheduled flights, to a total of 38,888 within the region. This drop in capacity and frequency is primarily due to Mexicana's recent suspension of flights, reports OAG in its monthly Frequency and Capacity Trend Statistics (FACTS) report. This and additional data is available in the October 2010 edition of OAG FACTS.

Scheduled seats to and from Central America fared better with a 1% decline in seat capacity, and a 2% reduction in scheduled flights in October 2010. Total seat capacity is 3.1 million, and 23,862 flights are scheduled. Not surprisingly, Mexico's domestic air service experienced the greatest loss in seat capacity, declining 19%; frequency was reduced 22%. International air service to and from Mexico declined 6% in seat capacity and 8% in frequency.

"Latin America has seen significant changes in its air transportation environment within the past few months. First, the proposed merger of TAM and LAN airlines, which, if approved, is poised to become the largest airline in South America; then came Mexicana Airlines' suspension of service, followed by the rapid addition of flights by competing airlines to fill the void created by the cancelations. In combination, these fast-moving developments have produced a dynamic atmosphere for airlines that operate in Central and South America or are considering entering this market," said Peter von Moltke, Chief Executive Officer, UBM Aviation.  

"U.S. airlines are currently planning their winter schedules and many are now looking to fill the gap in air service created by the suspension of services by Mexicana Airlines. The current decline in international air service to Latin America will be short-lived, with many airlines willing and able to quickly schedule additional flights, travelers to the region should expect close to full service by the end of the year. Domestic service within Mexico, however, will likely take longer to reach previous levels, due to aircraft and other limitations, but will eventually adjust to meet the demand in the region," continued von Moltke.

Air service growth is reflected in every other region of the world again this month. Worldwide, seat capacity will increase 7% in October to 320.7 million seats, an increase of 20.8 million seats. Frequency is scheduled to grow 5%, to a total 2.56 million flights, an increase of 133,116 monthly flights.

The growth in capacity to and from North America is significant, increasing 7%, or adding one million seats for a monthly total of 16.2 million. Growth within North America, however, continues to move slowly with a 2% increase or an additional 1.7 million seats in October (a total of 76.7 million).

"Air service within North America will be watched closely going forward with the recent proposal of Southwest Airlines to acquire AirTran Airlines and the approval of the United and Continental merger. Although it's too early to determine the impact of the mergers, many industry observers expect United and Continental initially to reduce their aggregate capacity as they work through the process of integrating two very large systems," said von Moltke.  

All other regions of the world are experiencing strong year-over-year growth. Air service to and from Europe remains strong, with capacity increasing 12% to a total of 24.6 million seats, and flights by 13%, to a total of 108,426. The Asia Pacific region increased 11% in seat capacity to and from the region growing to a total 14.8 million seats and a 12% increase in flights, to a total of 60,966.

Air service to and from Africa increased 15% in both capacity and frequency with a total of 7.8 million seats and 40,053 flights. The Middle East continues its rapid growth trend with increases to and from the region of 11% in total seats, and 12% in flights.

This data comes from the October 2010 edition of OAG FACTS (Frequency And Capacity Trend Statistics), a monthly report that uses interactive graphs to display performance trends of specific airports, routes, countries or regions, sourced from OAG's consolidated database of global airline schedules. A more detailed review of this month's statistics – including information about specific regions, routes and airports with illustrative charts and graphs – is available to download at: http://www.oagaviation.com/aviation-reports/reports-facts-1010.htm

* Please note that the October 2010 edition of OAG FACTS does not include data for Mexicana Airlines.

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