LONDON – According to data supplied by OAG, China Southern Airlines (CZ) is currently the largest airline in the world.

This data comes following the airline wanting to increase its capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic, with CZ increasing seat capacity to nearly 2.6 million seats, which is 1.2% up compared to last week and 10% down compared to the start of the year.

American Airlines (AA), therefore, has been moved down to second place, offering just over 2.4 million seats so far during the pandemic, representing a 7.2% decline compared to last week and is 50% down compared to January this year.

Delta Air Lines (DL) slipped into third place with just 2.3 million seats offered, having been the largest carrier last week. This evidently shows that the leader board is forever changing as airlines are trying to redevelop.

Photo: James Field

Heavy Growers


OAG was keen to note that there were some substantial and heavy growers over the course of the last week. LATAM Airlines (LA) for example increased its capacity by an additional five%, but is still operating around a third of its January schedules.

This is primarily due to the airline continuing to battle the Chapter 11 bankruptcy as well as waiting for recovery in the domestic and international markets.

Other growers consisted of United Airlines (UA) and Air China (CA) who have increased capacity by 0.3% and 0.7% respectively, which is considerable given the current climate.

Photo: Kochan Kleps

Bad News in Asia?


The removal of Cathay Dragon (KA) from the Cathay Pacific (CX) name makes a lot of sense for the group, especially with the data provided by OAG. CX has only been operating 18% of its pre-COVID demand levels at the moment, with KA only operating eight per cent of its network, which definitely shows the struggle the airline has been having.

Such a removal has also resulted in the closure of that subsidiary as well as 6,000 jobs being shed from the airline, as CX continues to battle with negative financials.

That being said, scheduled airline capacity for the South East region of Asia has increased by 5.7% and South Asia by 10.9%, offering some sort of hope that demand is slowly restoring in due time.

Photo: Aidan Pullino

India The Market To Be?


Seat capacity on a scheduled basis in India has increased by nearly 12 per cent to 2.5 million seats, which in part is due to the number of domestic flights being increased by the Indian government by 56%.

Whilst the country is in negative change like the rest of everyone else, the bounce-back on a week-by-week basis suggests that consumer confidence may be unchanged to the point it was at before the pandemic hit.

With airlines such as IndiGo (6E), Air India Express (IX) and others slowing increasing the portfolio again, we will see more sharper increases in the week-by-week changes. International flights are still a cause of improvement for the country, especially with some blanket bans still ongoing around the area.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Looking Ahead


Whilst CZ remains the largest airline in the world by capacity at the moment, this of course will change over the coming weeks and months, especially when a vaccine has been developed and distributed.

And seeing this change will be a good thing, not because of some sort of animosity towards CZ, but because it means that numbers are rising and that is what the industry needs to experience.

With the industry working hard to ensure customer confidence increases, then the increase in capacity will correlate with that, and that’s what we all need. Otherwise, we will continue to be in the same position we have been in for the last few months.


Featured Image: China Southern Airlines Airbus A380. Photo Credit: Luca Flores

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