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Europe’s biggest flag-carriers all aiming to be operating at least 85% of S19 capacity in S22

European Carriers

Analysis of Cirium schedule data for January and February this year shows that among western Europe’s six major flag-carriers there was considerable variation in terms of how much seat capacity they operated compared with the same period in 2019. Iberia was at around 85%, KLM and Air France were between 70% and 80%, while British Airways, Lufthansa and SAS were all below 60%. This is consistent with the data published by Eurocontrol which looks at flight movements rather than seat capacity.

With all airlines constantly tweaking and refining their future schedules, it can be misleading to read too much into capacity data for upcoming months. This is especially true right now in Europe as a result of the on-going schedule changes being made as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. However, current schedule data for the next seven months (through to the end of September 2022), shows that most airlines are planning to ramp up their recovery rate at least until the peak summer travel month of August.

SAS set for rapid recovery?

For all six carriers their recovery rate is expected to have reached 85% by June, with Lufthansa the last to reach that level. However, while five of the airlines show an improvement in the recovery rate that looks plausible, the figures for SAS look rather less so. The Scandinavian carrier’s recovery rate was just 50% in February, very similar to that of Lufthansa. In March it is set to exceed 60%, which would be an improvement comparable to that being envisaged by British Airways. However, schedule data for April indicates that SAS’s recovery will jump to 110%. That would represent 10% more seats on offer than in April 2019.

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European flag carrier rates in 2022

A check of Cirium data confirms that SAS is planning to go from offering 2.4m seats in March 2022 to offering 4.0m seats in April 2022, an increase of 65% in just one month. Broken down by country market SAS is showing growth between March and April of 46% in Norway, 70% in Sweden and 78% in Denmark. It will be interesting to see if this is actually what transpires.

The latest Eurocontrol data (up to 9 March) shows that SAS’s recovery rate continues to hover around the 52% mark.

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