Commercial Air Traffic for Aero 80 Carriers

The global Airline Industry recovery continues to march along in the right direction. Completion factor and Operations are both up, while cancellations continue to fall. Although each of these metrics can be considered loaded (i.e. there's a lot that goes into them), there is no doubt that things are trending in the right direction.

In the US, passenger throughput from TSA's reported numbers has stalled in July, hovering at 25% of previous year's throughput. In Europe, passenger throughput has just eclipsed the 25% mark as of mid-July.

European Recovery

In one of our recent Prose and Contrails updates, it was pointed out that Europe was driving the global increase in operated flights after having added a 50% increase, week-over-week. Going back to the Aero 80 dashboard, we can see the following in the European markets:

The entire series helps give some context for what is happening in the European markets. During June, there were some slow reintroductions of flights, but it doesn't take much analysis to see that the rate of increase saw a pretty big jump around the beginning of July and kept up to date. Thanks to this recent bump, flights during July in the EU are on pace for a 125% increase over June operations.

What's happening in Europe right now is quite amazing. Not only is capacity seeing an increase, but it would seem that demand is following that increase in lockstep when looking at ACI Europe's chart. It would seem Europe is taking the lead in what the recovery might look like in other regions of the world, so it warrants deeper analysis as things play out.


This recovery is most likely two-fold: the beginning of July marked the easing of travel restrictions within the EU and with a select group of countries, as well as the reintroduction of flights from both Ryanair and EasyJet (see below). Wizz Air, who had a short stint as the #1 carrier in Europe, was overtaken by Ryanair in July, with easyJet not too far behind. As demand comes back, the common assumption is that it will be leisure travel that returns first, and these three airlines would suggest just that.

With a market dominated by leisure travelers, competition is rife among the Low Cost Carriers (LCCs). To prove this hypothesis, Kambr Advisory pulled both historical and forward looking schedule data to analyze what the recovery looks like in a market where supply has jets parked in Teruel, and demand is scarce.

With the current incumbent now Wizz Air in Europe, it's likely in a recovery scenario that competitors will come roaring back, afraid to lose any market share they once had pre-pandemic. Looking at schedules of Ryanair, easyJet, and Wizz Air from August 2019 and August 2020, we compared competitive spirit on routes in which Wizz Air was competing with either Ryanair or easyJet.

In comparing the current August 2020 schedule to that which was operated in August 2019, routes that are in direct competition with Wizz Air have surged to a much greater level than routes in which easyJet and Ryanair are not competing with Wizz. It's no surprise that airlines are going to have to duke it out over what is currently being demanded, but it's especially going to be challenging for routes in which low cost competition is plentiful. And as we've seen elsewhere in the world, all the unwritten rules of competition are being thrown out the window.

The agility of an airline and its commercial plan will be paramount in navigating what is shaping up to be a long road. Europe is looking like it will lead the way, perhaps shining a light on what recovery will mean in the industry.