Rare Air — Ten Pandemic-Era Growth Stories
Airlines with the most new seats added, Q4’21 vs Q4’19
In the final quarter of 2019, the world’s airlines scheduled 1.4 billion departing seats. Two years later, in the final quarter of 2021, that figure would be nearly 30% lower. Yet the pandemic produced a few rare growth stories.
- Mexico’s leading LCCs took advantage of Aeromexico‘s bankruptcy, as well as steady inbound leisure demand from U.S. tourists
- Bamboo Airways, a fast-growing carrier before the pandemic, maintained steady fleet growth
- Ryanair grew aggressively in Italy most notably
- Sichuan Airlines itself grew but added most new seats through its Chengdu Airlines subsidiary
- U.S. ultra-LCCs continue to add planes, flights and seats
- SkyExpress added A320-NEOs to challenge Aegean Air in the big fat Greek tourist market
- Juneyao and its low-cost unit 9 Air expanded in China
The industry added some new airlines as well, like Breeze and Avelo in the U.S. But their total seats aren’t yet numerous enough to make this list. Note also that some airlines that shrank a lot (Air France/KLM and Aeroflot, for example), nevertheless added lots of seats to their low-cost subsidiaries (Transavia France and Pobeda, respectively).
Which airlines saw the biggest decline in seats during the past two years? Delta, easyJet and Emirates top this list. Most other global giants are not far behind. Reminder: this refers to total seats. Delta’s drop in percentage terms looks much less drastic. The very worst cases in percentage terms are concentrated in southeastern Asia, including Cathay Pacific, AirAsia and Thai Airways.