COVID-19: Asia-Pacific market update (W/E April 26)

China Southern Airlines
Credit: China Southern Airlines via Twitter

Welcome to Routes’ look at how the Asia-Pacific aviation market is responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, helping you understand the schedule changes and manage the impact so we can navigate through this crisis together. Routes is part of the Aviation Week Network.

The data is supplied by OAG using its OAG Schedules Analyser tool unless stated. Please note: the COVID-19 crisis remains fluid as airlines around the world continue to make dramatic capacity cuts. OAG has taken several steps to ensure the data is as accurate as possible. 

Asia-Pacific capacity

The rate of capacity decline across Asia-Pacific slowed again last week (w/c April 20), with a 1% drop in the number of available departure seats. Capacity totaled 16.9 million seats, a week-on-week reduction of 167,521.

However, the overall figure masks the fact that capacity dropped in four out of five regions, with only South East Asia posting a moderate rise. After some steep declines in recent weeks, South East Asia’s market grew by 126,228 seats, an increase of 4.5% on the previous seven days. 

In numerical terms, capacity in North East Asia fell the sharpest, losing almost 250,000 seats. In percentage terms, Central Asia’s market reduced in size by 21.6%, compared with the previous week, to just 55,297 seats.

Overall, Asia-Pacific’s total capacity last week of 16.9 million seats is 59.4% down on the same week a year ago (w/c April 22, 2019). 



Japan’s market shrank by almost 150,000 seats last week, equating to a 7.1% fall compared with the previous seven days, as capacity dipped below the 2 million mark. However, although a nationwide state of emergency is in place until May 4, the country has so far managed to avoid the huge capacity reductions seen in other nations.

In numerical terms, China recorded the second-largest drop in capacity with almost 70,000 fewer seats. However, the sheer size of the country’s market means this only equated to an 0.8% fall and ensured China retained its place as the world’s largest aviation market. Malaysia ranked third for overall capacity reduction, with the number of departure seats in its market declining by 40,015, a 33.6% reduction week-on-week.

Although capacity continues to contract in some countries, there are signs of growth in others. Vietnam’s government is progressively allowing flights to increase again, relaxing restrictions on some domestic routes in the country, including increasing the number of permitted frequencies on flights between the capital Hanoi (HAN) and Ho Chi Minh City (SGN). 

Domestic services are also slowly beginning to resume in South Korea, which was one of the worst countries hit by the COVID-19 crisis but now has the outbreak under control. The country’s market increased by 35,000 departure seats last week, a rise of 5.5%.

Indonesia’s domestic market had been less affected than many other countries in the region and the schedules data shows capacity rose by 5.5% last week. However, on April 24 the Indonesian government banned scheduled passenger services until June 1.



Asia-Pacific airlines



China Southern Airlines last week retained its place as the largest airline by capacity in the Asia-Pacific region, despite a slight 1% reduction in departure seats. In total, the airline offered 1.34 million seats, of which 99% were domestic. During the same week a year ago, the carrier operated 2.16 million domestic seats and 420,000 international seats.

Latest posts from Airlineroute:

JAL May 2020 International operations as of 0530GMT 30APR20 

ANA May 2020 International operations as of 0445GMT 30APR20

Philippine Airlines tentatively moves Cebu – Los Angeles resumption to June 2020

Jetstar Asia extends interim schedule to 19MAY20

Spring Airlines Japan April/May 2020 Domestic operations as of 23APR20

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.