Ryanair is now the fifth largest airline in the world (in terms of capacity) and returned to profitability in the second quarter of 2022, making it the most successful of the three largest European low-cost carriers. Drawing on OAG data for airline capacity and flight cancellations, as well as information published in airline financial statements for the period April to June 2022, we compare Ryanair with easyJet and Wizz Air on some key metrics to understand what is behind Ryanair’s success.
There are some interesting movements in the weekly capacity update from OAG, even though global airline capacity looks to be as stuck as the Manchester United back four! Weekly airline capacity is still at 102.4 million seats with 79,000 seats lost week-on-week, but dramatically Western Europe is now the largest regional market overtaking North America and holding first place in the global rankings. This is an “enjoy it while you can” moment for Western Europe as this is a function of the different school holiday seasons in each market and come September normal service will be resumed.
Not surprisingly, recent economic conditions have affected consumer behavior this summer. On one hand, consumers are ramping up travel and spending in the latest phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, inflation, global uncertainty, and the possibility of a recession seem to be causing some consumers to curtail their spending. Looking at de-identified Yodlee spend data, we’ve found some consumer spending trends that may help investors and strategists uncover new opportunities.
Summer travel is booming this year, but it’s also been extremely chaotic. Constant flight delays, cancellations, and lost luggage are making post-lockdown travel a nightmare. But new data from the Transportation Department show that airlines, not bad weather, are the ones to blame for recent disruptions. So what happened to airlines in recent years that could have caused this chaos? While the industry started to recover in late 2020, the current headcounts in the US are nowhere near the pre-pandemic level.
This week’s airline capacity numbers look pretty similar to last week's (which in turn were like the previous weeks) and it seemed that we had perhaps peaked at around 102 million seats a week. However, then China reported another lockdown, this time in Hainan, where most areas have been locked down today in response to a domestic COVID-19 outbreak. The impact of the latest lockdown is not reflected in this week’s numbers, but we should expect to see at least a million seats removed next week as the two major airports are impacted.
A modest half a million more seats week on week once again takes global capacity above 102 million as we enter the peak holiday month of the year. This means a remarkable 25% more seats than this time last year, and at 14% below 2019 levels, we edge ever closer to pre-pandemic levels. Looking forward, it looks like capacity is baked in at more than 100 million for the rest of the month, and feels like every flight operating is crammed with holiday makers and a few businessmen still working, who typically seem to be in either seat B or D!
While the calendar shows that the summer of 2022 is pushing toward its conclusion, travel season remains in high gear around the U.S. Aligned with that season, the latest four-week “bubble” charts from STR show that leisure-oriented travel remains the predominant force behind the top performing U.S. hotel markets. For the four-week period ending with 16 July, Oahu led the Top 25 Markets in average occupancy (84.2%) with a conspicuous boost during the Fourth of July holiday—the same period when most markets saw expected and significant demand declines.
In recent weeks, news of airlines cancelling flights and images of long queues at European airports have dominated mainstream media, with many travellers reported having missed their flight due to lengthy delays even after check-in. To shed light on how bad the situation really is, ForwardKeys has taken a closer look at air traffic disruption by analysing recent cutbacks in capacity around the world.
Despite some airports capping airline capacity without consultation in the last week - and the sad, if inevitable, decision of one UK airport to begin the closing process - it has been another week of capacity reaching above 102 million seats, and we should probably enjoy that heat whilst we can. Unsurprisingly, it is only the larger airports that are capping airline capacity for the peak holiday season, this inevitably means we will see capacity fall in the coming weeks in some key locations.
We took a look at airport foot traffic data from the past few months to understand how the travel sector is reacting to easing pandemic restrictions, newfound inflation concerns, and rising gas prices. After two long pandemic years, people are ready to fly again. But a new challenge is throwing a wrench in the budding air travel recovery – airport staffing woes. Many airport and airline employees, including pilots and service workers, were laid off during COVID, and airports are finding that resuming normal operations will take time.
This week saw several airlines making capacity cuts in the United Kingdom, airline COOs departing from two of Europe’s major carriers and Virgin Atlantic announcing a new route to Florida. SAS called their pilots' bluff, and were double bluffed themselves into an application for Chapter 11, and, reassuringly, despite everything global capacity increased slightly week-on-week to 102.1 million, leaving us just 14% below the 2019 mark.
As shared in a presentation on summer travel trends and tourism prospects for Spain delivered on the 30th of June by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism and ForwardKeys, confirmed bookings for travel to Spain in July and August point to “a summer like before the pandemic”, with the country having recovered nine in ten international bookings made in 2019.
Airlines with high cancellation rates gained seven points in market share by daily active users (DAUs) year-to-date, but simultaneously lost just as much market share by new installs. It's not too hard to see what is going on here. Fliers are launching the app to sort out cancellations, then they are moving on to check out the more reliable carriers. DAUs typically equate to loyal customers. In this case, Spirit, JetBlue, Frontier, Allegiant and Alaska are gaining "Ghost DAUs". The here today, gone tomorrow type.
The summer travel outlook report, produced for the World Travel Market (WTM) by ForwardKeys, reveals that in the third quarter of the year, July, August and September, global air travel is set to reach 65% of where it was before the pandemic in 2019. However, the revival is patchy, with some parts of the world doing much better than others and some types of travel, particularly beach holidays, being much more popular than urban city visits and sightseeing.
Robust top-line hotel performance indicators for the four weeks ending 11 June point to a clean transition between a rock-solid recovery during the spring to summer’s traditionally leisure-heavy travel period. With domestic leisure travel expected to remain strong, along with a recent lifting of international travel restrictions, STR expects a record-breaking summer season with numerous U.S. hotel markets to surpass 2019 comparables.
Even with gas prices skyrocketing and COVID-19 cases surging once again, this year’s summer travel season is poised to be one of the busiest on record. AirDNA reports that the booking pace for travel this spring was 49 percent higher than the same time last year, and 26 percent higher than 2019’s pre-pandemic levels. Ads for booking sites reflect this, with the top brands in the Travel Booking Services & Travel Agencies category unleashing a tidal wave of ads on streaming services like Hulu, Pluto TV, Tubi, and Peacock.
The latest data from ForwardKeys reveals that while Southeast Asia has been lagging far behind the rest of the world in its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors from the USA are coming back in substantially greater numbers than from other origin markets. In the first five months of the year (1st January – 31st May), travel to Southeast Asia reached just 18% of pre-pandemic levels, whereas travel to Europe reached 55%, to the Americas 66% and to the Middle East & Africa 64%.
The past two weeks have seen a surge in cancelled flights at European airports, culminating in highly visible cancellations at the weekend (4-5 June). The UK saw 4% of flights cancelled on Saturday 4th June, while the Netherlands saw cancellations rise to 11% on the same day. Cancellations also rose from French and Spanish airports over last weekend, although this may simply have been the repercussions of cancellations elsewhere.
Global airline capacity bounces back this week with airlines scheduling 95.2m seats. Having seen airline capacity reach above 90m seats last week, which felt like a positive step forward, this week’s total capacity represents a definite leap. Only one country market can have such an impact in just one week and that is China, where the re-opening of Shanghai from 1 June has triggered a big increase in capacity, with totals for North East Asia increasing week on week by a quarter or 3.4m seats.
Well past the second anniversary of the pandemic, business travel is showing its first significant signs of recovery. As that recovery gains momentum, a new landscape has formed with the presence of both traditional and new forms of business travel. Amid this new landscape, however, there remains mixed consumer sentiment toward business travel as well as a large gap between current volume and pre-pandemic comparables. STR’s consumer research from May 2022 produced telling insights into this always popular topic.