Last week I looked at how US airport capacity has changed during the pandemic, and now it’s time to go global. As a reminder, I took Cirium data and plotted it on Great Circle Mapper. Let’s start with the place where things are not going well right now… Europe.
In Europe, airports are melting down with hours-long security lines, mountains of lost bags, and general travel pain and suffering. So far the airports don’t seem to have any better idea than instituting artificial caps on travel which makes things even worse for the travel experience. Airlines say the airports just simply failed to adequately prepare by staffing up properly. Is that true? It does appear that way.
Top 10 European Airports by Scheduled Seats – July 2022
Traffic is down nearly across the board, and those airports that are suffering the most… are very, very down. This must be a staffing problem, because it certainly can’t be a physical footprint issue.
With the main European airports being pared back, Istanbul has jumped into the top spot with its capacity nearly flat vs 2019. That pushed Heathrow down to second place thanks to a 16 percent drop. Frankfurt had a larger drop that pushed it down to 4th while Paris stayed in third. Germany has been hit particularly hard.
There were some notable jumps at the bottom of the list. Gatwick and Palma de Mallorca each moved up 3 spots, cracking the top 10. But they moved for different reasons. Mallorca grew as leisure travel boomed. Gatwick being more leisure-focused had a similar rationale, but it still saw a large drop overall, just not as large as others.
Let’s look at the biggest losers.
Top 5 Biggest Losers in Europe by Scheduled Seats – July 2022
Prague is number 1 with a more than 40 percent cut. What’s that all about?
Austrian Smartwings is the largest airline in the market with nearly a quarter of the seats, and it is down more than 40 percent. Meanwhile, Czech basically stopped operating, down more than 90 percent.
In Stuttgart, Eurowings was more than a third of the traffic, but it dropped dramatically. Further, easyJet stopped flying there. In next place, there’s no surprise with Moscow falling off the map. Interestingly, it was also a Russian city that had the largest growth… Sochi. That was a winner because all that international traffic disappeared and everyone had to look domestically to places like Sochi for vacation.
Helsinki is a victim of the sanctions against Russia since overflight becomes a problem. But the disappearance of Norwegian in the country didn’t help either.
Let’s head south into Africa.
Top 10 African Airports by Scheduled Seats – July 2022
South Africa has been fairly restrictive during the pandemic, but a bigger problem is the sickness of its airline industry. South African is a shell of its former self and its subsidiary Mango isn’t flying. Meanwhile, Comair along with it subisidary Kulula has failed. It’s a vacuum right now.
Cairo has surged into the top spot thanks to nearly 10 percent growth from Egyptair, and Nigeria has really blown up with Abuja growing like mad. Still, the tenth largest market in Africa is not a very big market.
Next up, we head to the Middle East.
Top 10 Middle Eastern Airports by Scheduled Seats – July 2022
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Dubai is the largest airport in the region, but it is down a lot. Emirates is off 30 percent while smaller flydubai is up 30 percent. The issue for Emirates as a global carrier is that some of its locations have bigger restrictions in place for international travel.
Doha faces similar issues, but it has a national carrier that is more aggressive and less focused on actual demand than Emirates. For that reason, it is off by a lower percentage. Saudi Arabia does not have these issues. Saudia is focusing more on Jeddah than other places, but low cost operators like flyadeal are filling in quickly elsewhere now that the country has opened up for tourism for the first time. This is what happens when there’s a national mandate to become a center for air travel. We’ve seen this before.
Top 10 South/Southeast Asian Airports by Scheduled Seats – July 2022
If we head further east, that’s where things get really interesting. In South/Southeast Asia, it’s a real mixed bag. The number one airport in 2019 doesn’t even show on the map. Falling down to 27th place is Hong Kong. I doubt it will ever fully recover.
Singapore, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur also fell, though not to the same extent as Hong Kong. Meanwhile, India, Vietnam, and Jakarta are booming, or at least not dropping that much. India now has the number one and number three airports.
If we head a little north, it gets very strange in East Asia.
Top 10 East Asian Airports by Scheduled Seats – July 2022
You might think that Chinese airports would fall off the map completely thanks to the country’s effective walling-off from the rest of the world. That is what happened in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing. But you can’t forget that there are a billion people in China, and they are traveling domestically a lot. That’s why some of these cities saw limited cuts. They’re focused on domestic travel.
I do want to point out Chengdu/Tianfu, a brand new airport which has already become 10th largest in the region. What’s so amazing about this is that the old Chengdu airport remains open and operating. Together, they have more than 3.7 million seats in July 2022. In 2019, that was only 2.8 million.
It’s time to go south to something far more uniform.
Top 10 Oceania Airports by Scheduled Seats – July 2022
Welcome to Oceania, where the story is the same throughout. Traffic is down the most in international airports, but airports with more of a domestic focus saw less pain. There’s not much more to say about that, so let’s skip over to Latin America.
Top 10 Latin American Airports by Scheduled Seats – July 2022
Mexico did not shut down during the pandemic at all, and it has been growing. Mexico City… not so much. The airport was at capacity, and now thanks to safety concerns, airlines are being forced to cut back more. But look at Guadalajara and oh my, Cancun. They are booming.
Down in South America, you can see that the west coast countries were a lot more conservative than those elsewhere.
And lastly, let’s go to Canada.
Top 10 Canadian Airports by Scheduled Seats – July 2022
The only real movement here is in Ottawa, the seat of government, where capacity has plunged more than the rest. The closest we have to a success story here is Kelowna which is down less than 4 percent. Much of this is demand-related, but Canada, like Europe, is facing severe issues with operational integrity.
That’s it for our trip around the world. Feel free to ask questions in the comments, and I can pull more data to assist.