Air trends: China dominates, low-cost airlines booming in Africa

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The Independent Travel

This month will see four percent more flights take to the skies than the same time last year, according to March figures from aviation analyst OAG Aviation.

As usual, the growth is driven by the Middle East, which saw a 13 percent rise in both the number of seats available to and from the region and the number of flights available.

The second fastest-growing region was Asia Pacific, which saw a 13 percent rise in flights and an 11 percent rise in the number of seats being offered - a total of 15.2 million seats will be available on flights to and from the region this month.

Much of this growth was driven by Chinese airports, with Shanghai seeing 17 percent more capacity and Beijing up three percent, making it the second-largest airport in the world for scheduled capacity (behind Atlanta Hartsfield in the US).

OAG said that Chinese investment was also continuing to boost growth in Africa, and although instability in North Africa is likely to hit services, lowcost airlines are showing particular growth in this area - cheap flights are up a stunning 294 percent in March.

Thanks to the growth in the number of A380 superjumbos flying to and from Europe, the number of seats available on those routes went up by 10 percent.

Flights to and from the US grew more slowly, up four percent, although again low-cost airlines show healthier growth, with a 14 percent expansion on international routes.