REPORT: Asia-Pacific accounts for more than half of the world’s scheduled July domestic flights

Top countries include Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

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Airlines in Asia-Pacific are seeing some additional domestic traffic but quarantines still remain a barrier to travel. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Despite the global slowdown in aviation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report from Cirium shows that the top 20 global domestic aviation markets based on schedules for July 2020, account for more than 1.3 million flights in total, which has fallen by a third (32 percent) compared to 2019. Of this top 20, Asia-Pacific countries account for 54 percent of the world’s total domestic flights, followed by North American countries at 33 percent, European countries with 9 percent and Latin American countries clocking in with just 4 percent.  Of the world’s 1.3 million scheduled domestic flights, 31 percent are in the US market versus 29 percent for China.

Domestic scheduled flights for July 2020 within the US still lead the world’s domestic aviation markets with 413,538 flights in total, compared to 378,434 flights within China. However, the US trails behind China when it comes to actual capacity on the flights being operated, the Cirium report showed. The fast-moving Chinese market shows almost 64 million seats scheduled for July 2020 on flights within China. This is a capacity slip of only 5 percent versus the same month last year, compared to the US capacity of over 47.4 million seats scheduled for the same month, which is still down a dramatic 46 percent versus July 2019. The only markets globally to show growth in domestic travel are Vietnam, South Korea and Indonesia. Vietnam’s scheduled domestic flights and seats are up an impressive 28 percent compared to the same month last year.

Alistair Rivers, Cirium’s director of Market Development – Airlines and Airports, said: “Cirium figures reveal a fragile but cautiously resurgent market, as the air travel attempts to recover from the worst collapse in its history, triggered by a fall in demand and the imposition of travel restrictions following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Domestic market Scheduled FLIGHTS July 2020
1 United States 31.3%
2 China 28.7%
3 India 6.6%
4 Indonesia 5.8%
5 Japan 4.9%
6 Russian Federation 3.8%
7 Vietnam 2.2%
8 Mexico 2.2%
9 Canada 1.7%
10 Brazil 1.5%
11 Spain 1.4%
12 Philippines 1.3%
13 Australia 1.3%
14 Turkey 1.3%
15 Norway 1.1%
16 South Korea 1.1%
17 Malaysia 1.0%
18 Italy 0.9%
19 Thailand 0.9%
20 France 0.9%

“It is interesting to see China edging near the US, the previously dominant domestic market, and showing a return to similar levels of last year. However, the US has suffered a brutal 46 percent collapse versus July 2019,” said Rahul Oberai, managing director for APAC, Cirium. “It’s also encouraging that other parts of Asia are showing a resurgence, with smaller markets such as Vietnam, South Korea and Indonesia showing positive YoY growth. Air travel activity is appearing to reflect the relative regional retreat and advance of COVID-19 cases globally. So, it’s not surprising to see Brazil, which is experiencing high levels of COVID-19 cases, experience a precipitous 71 percent year-on-year decline in capacity.”

A recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, and the closing of the Victoria and New South Wales border, is mirrored with a 70 percent dive in Australian domestic flights scheduled for July 2020 compared to July 2019. The country also shows the biggest drop in the global top 20 with a massive 74 percent fall in domestic seats year-on-year. Meanwhile India’s sizeable domestic market is also showing the first signs of recovery with flights scheduled for July 2020 down just 4 percent compared to July 2019.

The COVID-19 crisis has seen a dramatic reduction in the amount of passenger flights scheduled globally. Previous analysis of Cirium’s schedules data indicated that global airline capacity was expected to drop by 75 percent by the end of April 2020, compared with the same period last year. Almost two thirds of the entire global fleet – of around 26,300 passenger jets – were in storage at the height of the crisis. This has since risen with 59 percent of the world’s fleet now back in service, however meaning 41 percent are still in storage.


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