Airline seat capacity between the U.S. and Europe is on
track to grow at the slowest rate since 2013, according to an analysis by the
Anker Report newsletter, which focuses on European commercial aviation.
According to an Anker Report review of data compiled by analytics
company Cirium, airlines are slated to offer 3% more transatlantic seats this
year than they did in 2018. That compares with growth rates of at least 5.2%
since 2014. The U.S.-Europe growth rate spiked as high as 6.9% in 2016 and was
6.4% last year.
The beginning of those high-growth years coincided with the
onset of service by discount carrier Norwegian Air, which entered the U.S.-Europe
market in 2013.
The biggest factor in this year’s slowdown is the March
demise of Icelandic discount carrier Wow Air, Anker Report author Ralph Anker
wrote. Wow flew 13 U.S. routes last summer and was the 16th largest carrier in the
market. The collapse of ultralow-cost carrier Primera Air, which flew six
U.S.-Europe routes last summer, was another factor.
Also having an impact is the slowdown in growth at
Norwegian, which is scheduled to increase its transatlantic seats by 7% this
summer compared with 91% growth last summer and 70% in summer 2017.
The largest players in the market are network U.S. carriers
Delta, United and American, which are scheduled for transatlantic growth of 5%,
6% and 6%, respectively, this summer. Delta flies the most U.S-Europe routes
with 69, down from 71 last year. United and American are offering 62 and 58
U.S.-Europe routes, respectively, this year.
Growing fastest in the U.S.-Europe market this summer is TAP
Portugal with a 45% jump in total seats. TAP is increasing its route count from
five to eight with the upcoming launch of flights from Lisbon to Chicago, San
Francisco and Washington.