After eclipsing American Airlines to become world’s largest airline by number of seats, Southwest Airlines now finds itself in second place again…with a new airline in the top position.
Uneven Adjustment To Worldwide Airline Schedules
Last year at this time, 109 million seats were available globally. This year, that number is 26.6 million, a slide of over 75%. That number slipped even further this week as May airline schedules were implemented.
However, we are not seeing a reduction in every country. Forbes notes that while 303 airlines reduced capacity buy 5.6 million seats, 270 airlines added back 3.9 million seats.
That’s still a net loss, though, and one million of those 5.6 million seats lost this month were on Southwest Airlines.
China Eastern Eclipses Southwest; Now World’s Largest Airline
In Northeast Asia (China, South Korea, Japan), traffic is up 6% from last week, including 900,000 additional seats in China.
That increase in China and cutbacks in the USA has propelled state-owned China Eastern into the position of world’s largest airline by seats available. That is but one metric to measure capacity, but an important one that suggests that aviation is already rebounding in other parts of the world.
I’d consider this discussion more of interest to aviation geeks than as a meaningful or long-term metric. U.S. carriers will eventually re-establish themselves as world’s largest carriers once seat demand returns. But for now at least, China Eastern can claim the mantle of world’s largest airline.