Pat Hyland - Jan 11, 2021
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While the aviation sector was hit hard all over the world, it seems that European companies were affected the most. According to the latest data, Europe lost more than half of its airline seat capacity last year, which was more than any other region.

In 2019, Europe was the region with the second-largest airline seat capacity. A year later the continent found itself languishing in third place on this list due to a 57.7% decline in seat capacity. In actual capacity, it represents a drop from 1.661 billion in 2019 to 703 million in 2020.

On the other hand, the volume of the seat capacity in Asia Pacific only dropped 38% and in North America 44.9%. Other aviation sector that suffered significantly was the Middle Eastern region with 53.2% drop, then Africa with 52.9%, and the Latin American sector with 51.2%.

The strict lockdown and travel restrictions applied in major European countries such as the UK and Italy throughout 2020 were the causes of the decline in the continent's aviation sector. The largest drop in the seat capacity was recorded in April 2020 - 90.4%.

What to Expect in 2021?

In the first complete week of the year, the reported seat capacity was about 17.4 million less than it was in the first full week of 2019. With a new wave of coronavirus in Europe, experts are not very optimistic about the aviation sector in 2021. For January 2021, they project an airline seat capacity reaching 32% of what it was in January 2019. Two months ago, the capacity reached 30% so the trend is slightly positive. 

The projected capacity for February 2021 in comparison to the same month in 2019 is 43% and that of March 2021 is 56%. However, recent spikes in Covid-19 cases across some European countries, as well as the UK's latest lockdown measures threaten to disrupt these protections for the worse.

Hope for the Aviation Sector

There is some hope for the industry in the form of the Covid-19 vaccine. The UK's vaccination programme appears to be going better than most countries. Since the UK holds the largest market share in the European aviation sector, how fast they get the public vaccinated will determine the time when the sector bounces back.

Many experts point out that there is nothing sure about the developments in the sector during the current year. It is however almost certain that not every aviation company will survive until the end of the year. What is positive, it is very probable that by the end of 2021, the position of the European aviation sector will be significantly better than it was last year.

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