Published on Tuesday, May 5, 2020

China Eastern becomes world's biggest airline

China Eastern is now the world's largest airline, according to OAG Aviation Worldwide.

It is the biggest based on available seat capacity, after leapfrogging Dallas-based Southwest Airlines. which has cancelled more than one million seats.

Southwest became the largest using this metric only recently as US rivals including American Airlines and Delta had slashed flights by nearly 90%.

"Some 270 airlines added capacity back to the tune of approximately 3.9 million seats; unfortunately, 303 airlines reduced capacity by some 5.6 million including over one million fewer seats from Southwest Airlines," said OAG analyst John Grant on the company's blog.

Global capacity has now shrunk from 109 million to only 26.6 million.

Flights still operating are overwhelmingly domestic due to international restrictions and near zero demand.

Domestic routes make up 82% of all flights.

Shanghai-based China Eastern is part of China's 'Big Three' carriers along with China Southern Airlines and Air China.

Airlines in China have added about 900,000 seats as travel restrictions have been eased and demand rises.

The three airlines all posted large first quarter losses but loads have significantly improved this week as people travelled in the millions during the May Day holiday period.


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