Airline capacity across Europe is increasing rapidly in April as Covid-19 restrictions are dropped and carriers launch their summer schedules.
The UK has seen the largest increase in scheduled weekly seats over the past three months, with a rise of 41 per cent between early January and this week when the market reached 2.8 million seats.
Although the UK’s overall capacity is still down by 19 per cent on the same week in 2019, according to the latest seat statistics from aviation data firm OAG.
Other European markets to see growth of at least 30 per cent in seat capacity over the past three months include Greece, Portugal, Denmark, Germany, France, Norway, Spain and Ireland.
But for most European countries, seat capacity is still well below 2019 levels, except for Greece which has seen a 3 per cent increase over the same week three years ago.
Overall airline capacity in Western Europe is now at around 88 per cent of 2019 levels, according to OAG, and this could creep up to less than 10 per cent of pre-Covid figures in the next few weeks.
OAG’s senior analyst John Grant said the recovery in European was down to a “combination of nearly all lockdown restrictions being removed and the change to summer programmes”.
EasyJet, British Airways and Vueling are the airlines to see the largest recovery in seat capacity since January.
Grant added: “EasyJet is the standout winner in terms of capacity recovery, although some of their low-cost competitors would argue that they were slow off the mark at the beginning of the year.
“Nevertheless, almost doubling capacity in twelve weeks is no mean feat, especially when going from one million to nearly two million seats a week.”
Ryanair, Iberia and Turkish Airlines are the only major European airlines to now be offering more seats than they did in April 2019.
Grant added that some airports seem to have been caught “off guard” by the increase in passengers leading to long queues at many airports, particularly in the UK, where travellers are being warned to expect long waits to check in and pass through border controls.
“The challenges of operating airports with staff shortages and increasing Covid-19 cases cannot be underestimated,” he said.