Flight cutbacks worse than expected

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You knew it was bad, but it seems to be getting worse. The number of domestic US flights is set to fall by almost 11% and capacity by 9% in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared to a year ago, according to OAG. OAG, which used to be the Official Airline Guide, which just revised its August estimate. The domestic market will account for 21.4 million of the cutback in available seats, or 46% of the global decline, and a staggering 59% of the global drop in frequencies with 265,000 fewer flights.

                       

In Europe, the cutbacks are worse as well. Figures for flights within Europe  are now 5% lower than for 2007′s last quarter; this was forecast at a 2.7% drop in August. Seat capacity is now 5.6% lower compared with the previous analysis drop of 2.8% a couple of months ago.

So as the US and Europe drop, a shift on transatlantic and transpacific routes emerges. In August, OAG figures showed that both were showing some growth. The latest figures reveal a capacity reduction of 2.9% for transatlantic capacity, reversing the earlier schedule analysis of 2% growth, and a drop of 3.1% on transpacific routes compared with the previous nominal rise of 0.2% year on year.

“We are seeing an interesting regional balance emerging, with European travelers facing double the number of capacity cuts identified in the August analysis, and Asian travelers with half as many now that all carriers have filed their winter schedules,” said Steve Casley of OAG. 

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