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Industry trends, on the fly

on the fly: What are the latest US airline capacity trends?

November 14, 2022

A look at US airline recovery in Q4.

Analytics on the fly


The US airline market is well on its way to recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The degree of recovery, however, varies greatly across different airlines and markets. Here’s a look at US airline capacity in the current October-to-December quarter, using data from Diio by Cirium. It shows each carrier’s five busiest airports ranked by scheduled seats, and how they’ve grown or contracted since the same quarter in 2019.

American Airlines is currently flying significantly more seats than its rivals Delta and United. In fact, Southwest (which is bigger now than it was pre-crisis) has more seats scheduled this quarter than either Delta or United. Separately note Spirit’s nearly 30% growth since 2019, with Frontier and Allegiant capacity also up by double digits. Breeze and Avelo are two new airlines that have entered the scene.

A look at exactly where airlines are growing hints at their post-pandemic network strategy. JetBlue, for example, has placed a lot of emphasis on the New York market. American, Delta, and United, meanwhile, have been forced to shrink their key Asian hubs, namely Chicago, Detroit, and San Francisco, respectively. That trend should start to reverse as Asian markets recover. Southwest is making big bets on Denver and Las Vegas but pulling back in Baltimore. Alaska has dramatically downsized in Los Angeles. And so on.

How can we take a deeper look at these trends? Diio by Cirium can help identify capacity trends at many different levels of detail, be it by airport, by city-pair, by aircraft type, etc. Or maybe what you’re looking for is a more high-level look. Here’s one: The US airline industry as a whole is still smaller than it was pre-crisis. As Diio shows, the collective fourth quarter seat capacity for all the airlines below is still 4% less than what it was in Q4, 2019.

What are the latest US airline capacity trends for Q4 2022?

source: Diio by Cirium, data queried on Oct. 17, 2022

NEXT WEEK: How is Doha preparing for the FIFA World Cup?

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