AviationVietnam and Singapore are making fast recovery, but others in Southeast Asia aren't too far behind.

Airports on the mend: Who's the busiest of them all?

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Six of the top 10 busiest international routes started or ended in Singapore in August, “reflecting the degree of recovery taking place there”.
Six of the top 10 busiest international routes started or ended in Singapore in August, “reflecting the degree of recovery taking place there”. Photo Credit: GettyImages/suriya silsaksom

Airline capacity in Southeast Asia continues to lag the rest of the world although domestic capacity is picking up more quickly than international.

Two countries in the region are doing better than others in driving the recovery in air travel.

The recovery of total air capacity in Vietnam is a standout in Southeast Asia It is now eight percent ahead of August 2019 levels, the only country in the region to have reached this goal, says data analyst OAG.

Vietnam's key trunk route between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City continues to be the busiest domestic route in the region and was the third busiest route in the world in August.

Besides Singapore, the other three routes in the Southeast Asia's top 10 are from Bangkok, Jakarta and Denpasar.
Besides Singapore, the other three routes in the Southeast Asia's top 10 are from Bangkok, Jakarta and Denpasar. Photo Credit: OAG

Indonesia has also performed strongly, with its domestic market just 13% below 2019 levels.

International airline capacity in Southeast Asia in August was 55% below 2019 levels. Overall airline capacity was 31% behind August 2019.

This contrasts with new IATA figures showing global traffic is now at 74.6% of pre-crisis levels.

Domestic airline capacity in Southeast Asia hit rock bottom in July 2021, according to OAG. Available seats have been on an upward trajectory since then, reaching 22.3 million in August this year.

International seat capacity in Southeast Asia plunged to below two million in March 2020 and plateaued for 11 months before a slow rise – starting in January this year – to 8.3 million seats in August.

Six of the top 10 busiest international routes started or ended in Singapore in August, “reflecting the degree of recovery taking place there”, OAG noted.

Separately, OAG has put three rival hub airports under the microscope - Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK), Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL), and Singapore’s Changi International airport (SIN).

Indonesia-based Lion Air continues to be the biggest carrier currently in Southeast Asia with 3.7 million seats in August 2022.
Indonesia-based Lion Air continues to be the biggest carrier currently in Southeast Asia with 3.7 million seats in August 2022. Photo Credit: OAG

As of July 2022, Singapore edged out Bangkok for the recovery in total number of airline seats in the schedules vs July 2019, at 56.6% (2,024,318 total seats), whilst Bangkok came in at 54.2% recovery (1,840,692 total seats), and Kuala Lumpur lagged in third place, at 45.8% (1,536,464 total seats).

OAG praised the Singapore government for supporting both Singapore Airlines and Changi Airport to ensure that the infrastructure is in place as air travel recovers.

However, OAG added, “It cannot be said that Malaysia and Thailand have given their own hubs the same single-minded focus.”

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