What Asia-Pacific Airlines Offered The Most Seats Last Summer?

Recent research and analysis has revealed the top five airlines in the Asia-Pacific region in terms of seat availability. In the six months to September 20, 2021, the Indian low-cost airline IndiGo took the top prize, offering nearly triple the number of seats the next place getter had on offer.

India Aviation IndiGo Getty
On seat availability, IndiGo was the biggest airline in the Asia-Pacific region last summer. Photo: Getty Images

IndiGo tops the Asia-Pacific seat availability charts

The recently released OAG Take Off 2021 Report took the temperature of the airline industry around the world over the northern 2021 summer season. In the Asia-Pacific region, it found the five airlines offering the most seat availability were IndiGo, Lion Air, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, and Qantas respectively.

IndiGo offered 37,541,924 seats over the period, just 73% of seat availability across the comparable 2019 period but enough to see the airline take the top ranking on this metric. The second place getter was Indonesia’s Lion Air who had 13,700,385 seats available, or 60% of what was available in the comparable 2019 period.

All Nippon Airways had 13,640,518 seats available across the 2021 northern summer season. That’s 43% of what ANA had available in the 2019 northern summer. Hot on its heels was local rival Japan Airlines who had 13,542,817 seats on offer over the recent summer, or 50% of what they had on offer over the 2019 summer.

Taking fifth spot was Qantas. The Australian airline had 7,615,954 seats available through the northern summer season, just 43% of what it was offering across the 2019 summer.

OAG notes as of September 20, IndiGo’s available capacity vaulted it into the ranks of the world’s ten biggest airlines. The airline was operating 245 planes, having the second largest fleet of these five airlines – All Nippon Airways has 252 planes.

Japanese carriers ANA and Japan Airlines made the top five list. Photo: Getty Images

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Better performing airlines had domestic markets to fall back on

Along with passenger numbers, frequencies were well down on 2019 levels. IndiGo flew 215,283 flights between March 28 and October 30, 2021, down 28% on summer 2019 levels. Lion Air laid on 67,962 flights over the recent summer, or 61% of its summer 2019 frequencies.

Japan Airlines had more flights than ANA last summer, offering 63,247 flights against ANA’s 62,040 flights. But both these numbers were down on comparable 2019 numbers. Japan Airlines put on 120,109 flights over the 2019 summer flying season and ANA operated 119,218 flights.

Qantas offered 43,344 flights across the 2021 northern summer season. Most of those flights operated early in the season before lockdowns in Australia curbed Qantas’ flying. In the comparable 2019 season, Qantas put on 89,117 flights – more than double the 2021 offering.

All five airlines have the benefits of big domestic markets to fall back on while international travel remained problematic. Border closures saw airlines with an international focus, like Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines severely curtail their flying over the summer.

Asia-Pacific airlines with big international networks failed to make the top five list. Photo: Getty Images

Lion Air reduces its international flying to zero

Of the five airlines listed, Qantas is the most internationally orientated. According to OAG, normally 32% of Qantas’ seat availability is on international flights. In contrast, only 9% of IndiGo’s seat capacity was deployed onto international services in 2019.

Over the last summer, 5% of IndiGo’s 37,541,924 available seats were on international flights. Japan Airlines deployed 14% of its seat capacity on international services and ANA put 11% of its seat capacity onto international flights.

Qantas offered just 7% of its available seats on international services over the summer, while Lion Air, which had 1,557,229 seats on offer on international flights over the 2019 summer, had no international flights this last summer.

With the vaccination rollout continuing apace, travel lanes openings, and a general easing of border restrictions, all five airlines are optimistic their fortunes (and metrics) will improve over the following months.