China Southern Makes Comeback As World’s Largest Airline

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China Southern has almost managed to return to its pre-COVID levels
China Southern has almost managed to return to its pre-COVID levels. Source: OAG

China Southern Airlines is back as the world’s largest airline, climbing above U.S carriers Delta and American Airlines, OAG said on Monday in a report that said that the top ten airlines look pretty settled now with some ‘distance’ to Shenzhen Airlines, placed 11th.

With the domestic aviation market remaining relatively unfazed in China, the airline has capitalised on the global downturn in aviation to claim the top spot, Simpleflying.com said in it’s report.

While other major airlines worldwide have drastically reduced their operating capacity, China Southern has almost managed to return to its pre-COVID levels, the Simpleflying report said adding that whether or not the airline will stay on top remains to be seen, as just last week Delta Air Lines celebrated becoming the world’s largest before being overtaken.

OAG noted that amongst the largest twenty airlines in the world the fastest growing carrier this week was LATAM who added back a further 5 percent capacity but continue to only operate one-third of their January schedules as they emerge out of Chapter 11 and the Latin American market begins to recover.

The last week has seen plenty of coverage of the tough conditions facing both Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. Cathay Pacific are currently operating just 18 percent of their pre COVID-19 levels and for Cathay Dragon the situation is even worse at just 8 percent as their historic reliance on the China market impacts and current restrictions frustrate any hope of a recovery.

For Singapore Airlines the current recovery rate of 10 percent and continuing costs and commitments to adverse fuel hedges has led to the carrier using a large chunk of the funding they received from shareholders earlier in the year.

The regional bright spot continues to be South Asia where more capacity has been introduced in both India and Bangladesh and if that capacity can stick in the market it will obviously be a welcome development, OAG said.

India, it said continued to move up the country chart into third place as a consequence of another 270,000 seats being added with some 12% growth placing the country amongst the fastest growing major markets in the world. Only three of the top ten country markets saw an increase in capacity week on week.

Impressively, the United Kingdom re-entered the top ten by not seeing as heavy capacity cuts as both Spain and Germany which are now in 13th and 14th places respectively; Spain reporting 7% fewer seats and Germany 11%. With Vietnam in eleventh position and within 14,000 seats of the UK this week’s appearance may be no more than a brief visit to the top ten.