The air transport industry has proved largely immune to the effects of terrorism, pandemics and natural disasters over the past 32 years, according to a new report released last week by OAG and UBM Aviation. The analysis shows that global airline capacity has grown by an average of 3.1 percent per year since 1979, during which time the vast majority of crises resulted in a “negligible” effect on global airline capacity, and that at a regional level capacity dropped less than 4 percent and recovered within three months.
“The OAG World Crisis Analysis shows how quickly the aviation industry responds and adapts in the face of almost any disaster, which is reassuring news for world markets and the ancillary industries that depend on aviation,” said Peter von Moltke, CEO of UBM Aviation.
The report found that the September 11 attacks and the global banking crisis of 2008-2009 account for the only events since 1979 that caused “significant” decreases in global air capacity, averaging a 3 percent and 9 percent drop in volume and recovering within 36 months and 24 months, respectively.
Other findings include:
• From 1979 to Sept. 11, 2001, world airline capacity steadily increased at an average rate of 5 percent, or 94 million seats per year.
• Since the 9/11 attacks, world capacity has steadily grown at an average rate of 2.6 percent, or 81 million seats per year.
• Regionalized events such as the Gulf Wars, swine flu and volcanic eruptions caused, on average, less than a 4-percent drop in regional airline capacity. Recovery took three months or less, and the effect on global capacity proved “negligible.”
• Continued growth in air capacity now centers on Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, the Middle East and China, where growth of the middle class and personal wealth is contributing to increased air travel demand.
“After analyzing OAG’s capacity data from the last three decades, we were astonished at the airline industry’s resiliency in times of crisis,” said Mario Hardy, Asia Pacific vice president for UBM Aviation. “One would have thought that tragic events in recent years would have dramatically affected air travel capacity for long periods of time, but that simply has not been the case, with only the [9/11] attacks and global banking crises causing major disruptions.”