Flight Friday: Which Regions Are Ahead Of The 2019 Utilization Benchmark?

Now that we have completed the first half of 2023, this week’s #FlightFriday looks at how flight hours, by region, compare against the equivalent months in 2019.

With 2019 still being the ‘benchmark’ year in terms of fleet and utilization, it is encouraging to see that some regions are at or above their equivalent month in 2019. Some, however, remain some way off full recovery.

The positive club members:

China is operating almost 124% of their equivalent 2019 flight hours of June 2019. With the removal of the zero COVID policy in December 2022, China returned to positive territory in March 2023, remaining above the 100% mark since.

The African continent is in second place, operating almost 112% of the equivalent flight hours in June 2023. Africa has been above 2019 equivalent flight hours for the whole of 2023, as the African fleet has grown with the introduction of extra aircraft into their collective fleets.


In a joint third come India and Latin America. Both are just a touch below 110% of 2019 levels. Even with the well-publicised issue of GoAir (Go First), Indian flight hours are still in good shape compared to 2019, showing how many extra aircraft the continent has taken to still keep flight hours up.

Rounding out the positive club members, just, is the Middle East. With the Middle East carriers, generally, generating cash from transit passengers, it has taken these carriers some time to return to pre COVID levels.

The ‘needs improvement’ regions:

Eastern Europe is below 84% of equivalent 2019 levels. This is hindered in part by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions placed on Russia, limiting their flying internationally, also the closure of Ukrainian airspace ,for safety reasons, is limiting flights in and around the region.

Asia Pacific is just below 90%, in part because of the lack of uptick on flight in/out of China, but they are on a positive trend back towards pre COVID levels.

North America and Western Europe are both around 95%. As we reach the traditional high summer season for these two regions, we anticipate these numbers to peak above 2019 flight hours over the coming months.

This data was put together using Aviation Week’s Tracked Aircraft Utilization tool.

Daniel Williams

Based in the UK, Daniel is Director of Fleet Data Services for Aviation Week Network. Prior to joining Aviation Week in 2017, Daniel held a number of industry positions analyzing fleet data.


Flight Friday is compiled using data from Aviation Week Intelligence Network’s (AWIN) Tracked Aircraft Utilization module, the most comprehensive and accurate solution for global tracking of aircraft utilization. 

Based on recorded flight movements from ADS-B data, combined with AWIN’s robust fleet intelligence, users gain insight into the aircraft’s actual versus reported movement, down to the tail number. This unique solution provides users a more up-to-date and comprehensive analysis of aircraft utilization.