Airlines Embrace the Summer Skies in June 2023

In the ever-changing landscape of the aviation industry, June 2023 brought both hope and challenges for airlines worldwide.



August 2, 2023

DALLAS — In the ever-changing landscape of the aviation industry, June 2023 brought both hope and challenges for airlines worldwide. As the world emerged from the shadows of the pandemic, carriers took flight once again, endeavoring to reclaim their pre-pandemic pace. However, this road to recovery was not without obstacles, and each airline's journey was unique, shaped by various factors.

This analysis will shed light on the month-on-month recovery for each airline, offering insights into the flight frequency data of some of the airlines in June 2023, and comparing their performance with that of June 2019 and May 2023. In June 2023, the aviation industry witnessed a significant recovery as the world gradually emerged from the grip of the pandemic. Below, we present a detailed examination of the number of flights for each airline.

With the beginning of the summer travel season, the global aviation industry is making impressive strides toward recovery. With worldwide capacity forecasted to reach 479.2 million in June 2023, airlines are tantalizingly close to pre-pandemic levels, trailing just 2.9% behind June 2019 figures.

N744P & N745VJ American Airlines Airbus A319 KPHX PHX. Photo: Chris Goulet/Airways.

US Carriers

In the spotlight of this action-packed summer season, several airlines are working tirelessly to reclaim their pre-pandemic figures. Among the top contenders, the podium is unequivocally dominated by the "Big 3" US carriers.

Leading the Big 3 US carrier is American Airlines (AA), boasting an impressive 170,541 flights in June, showing a promising 2.4% increase compared to the previous month. This increase indicates a steady revival for the airline amid the evolving travel landscape.

Close behind AA is Delta Air Lines (DL), maintaining a steady 0.1% uptick in flight frequencies in June. DL operated close to 141,000 flights in June 2023. Though there was only a marginal increase of 0.1% compared to May 2023, it is a positive sign for the airline amidst the ongoing challenges.

N501DN Delta Air Lines Airbus A350-900 AMS EHAM. Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways

Completing the triumphant trio is United Airlines (UA), witnessing a minor decline of 0.2% in flight frequencies compared to May 2023. UA operated close to 31,000 flights in June.

Though the Big 3 US carriers are making strides toward recovery, they still face a significant journey to reach their pre-pandemic heights. Based on June’s figure, AA is 16.3% below its flight frequencies in June 2019, while DL lags by 18%, and UA by 15.3%.

N8828L Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 KPAE. Photo: Brandon Siska/Airways

Budget Carriers: A Resilient Soar

As the Big Three US carriers strive for dominance, the battle of budget carriers also adds excitement to the summer skies. Southwest Airlines (WN), with approximately 122,377 flights in June, remains a strong contender despite a 2.3% downtick from the previous month. However, WN is celebrating a relative victory, offering 3.4% more flights this month compared to June 2019.

Challenging the US carriers is the Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair (FR). With approximately 93,212 flights in June 2023, Ryanair's flight frequency increased by 1.5% compared to the previous month. This growth is particularly noteworthy considering the challenges the aviation industry faced during the pandemic. Ryanair's ability to adapt and expand its flight operations showcases its commitment to meeting the changing demands of travelers.

Compared to June 2019, FR is operating an astonishing 28.6% more flights this month. This impressive surge signifies the airline's strong recovery trajectory, outperforming many of its competitors and re-establishing its position as a dominant force in the budget airline market.

Ryanair (EI-DHP) Boeing 737-8AS(WL). Photo: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways.

Chinese Carriers: A Triumph in Recovery

As the world looks to the East, Chinese carriers lead the triumphant march toward recovery. With China gradually reopening its skies, China Eastern Airlines (MU), China Southern Airlines (CZ), and Air China (CA) emerge as the leaders in the region.

In June 2023, MU operated around 68,000 flights, witnessing a modest decline of 2.8% compared to the previous month. This reduction could be attributed to various factors, including changing travel patterns and the evolving global situation. However, in a remarkable testament to its recovery, China Eastern Airlines offers nearly 4% more flights than it did in June 2019.

China Southern Airlines B-1297 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.Photo: Max Langley/Airways

Following closely, CZ operated approximately 65,500 flights in June 2023, representing a relative decrease of 3% compared to May 2023. Yet, like its counterpart, the airline surpassed its pre-pandemic flight frequencies by an impressive 2.2%.

Rounding off the Chinese carriers, CA boasts the most significant difference between its current and pre-pandemic flight frequencies. With approximately 49,200 flights operated in June 2023, Air China exceeds its June 2019 frequencies by over 19%. This remarkable recovery positions the airline as a beacon of hope in the industry's pursuit of pre-pandemic levels.

Air China B-6073 Airbus A330-243. Photo: Roberto Leiro/Airways

The Chinese carriers have shown remarkable resilience, surpassing their pre-pandemic numbers by substantial margins.

IndiGo: High-Flying Expectations

Among the budget carriers, India's leading low-cost airline, IndiGo (6E), emerges as a true triumph in June 2023. With approximately 55,788 flights operated this month, 6E showcased an overwhelming 32.7% increase compared to its flight frequencies in June 2019.

This significant growth highlights IndiGo's strategic approach to recovery, capitalizing on domestic and international travel opportunities with the addition of routes and new aircraft. IndiGo's focus on customer-centric operations and competitive pricing further solidifies its position as a formidable player in the aviation industry.

Indigo VT-IHOAirbus A320-214. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Despite a minor 1.2% dip in flight frequencies compared to May 2023, 6E's month-on-month performance remains commendable, illustrating its ability to adapt and adjust to the changing market conditions. As one of the few airlines that surpassed its pre-pandemic flight frequencies, IndiGo holds a vital position relative to the aviation industry's recovery.

Easyjet Airbus A320neoPhoto: Hendrik Bittorf/Airways

European Budget Carriers: A Mixed Bag

In Europe, budget carriers play a crucial role in the aviation landscape. Among them, easyJet (U2) and Ryanair compete fiercely for market share and passenger loyalty. As U2 continues to forge ahead, it faces both triumphs and challenges in its recovery journey.

In June 2023, U2 operated close to 52,500 flights, experiencing a 2.3% increase compared to last month. This growth showcases the airline's concerted efforts to boost capacity and respond to the growing demand for summer travel. However, easyJet still faces a hurdle as it remains 6.3% short of its flight frequencies in June 2019.

Navigating through the complexities of the pandemic's aftermath, easyJet's recovery strategy will play a pivotal role in determining its long-term success. As travel restrictions evolve and passenger preferences change, the airline must remain agile and adaptive to capitalize on emerging opportunities.

Turkish Airlines TC-JOL Airbus A330-300
Turkish Airlines TC-JOL Airbus A330-300 | Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

The Other Half

As we explore the flight frequencies of airlines in June 2023, the aviation industry's recovery story emerges as one of resilience, adaptability, and determination. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and its aftermath, airlines worldwide have showcased remarkable efforts to bounce back and serve their passengers.

Moving toward the other half of the analysis, we have analyzed some of the airlines individually, based on the number of flights.

Turkish Airlines (TK): Turkish Airlines showcased a commendable recovery in June 2023. Operating approximately 47,159 flights, TK enjoys a substantial increase of 10.8% compared to June 2019. Despite a minor decline of 0.1% compared to May 2023, Turkish Airlines remains on a steady climb toward recovery.

LATAM Airlines Group (LA): In June 2023, LATAM Airlines Group demonstrated significant progress, operating close to 43,000 flights, a 14.5% increase compared to June 2019. Despite a minor 0.8% decline compared to May 2023, the airline continues to strive for success in the Latin American market.

Lufthansa (LH): Lufthansa is still a bit far from its 2019 levels, operating approximately 36,852 flights in June 2023, a decline of 21.1% compared to June 2019. However, the airline exhibited a promising growth of 2.4% compared to May 2023, indicating continuous efforts toward recovery.

Lufthansa Boeing 747-8I D-ABYT in Retro Livery. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

Alaska Airlines (AS): Alaska Airlines showcased commendable efforts in June 2023, operating just over 35,000 flights with a decline of 12.9% compared to June 2019. With a positive increase of 1.5% compared to May 2023, the airline remains on a path of recovery.

Air Canada (AC): In June 2023, Air Canada operated close to 33,700 flights, a 29% decline compared to June 2019. Despite this setback, the airline operated 5.1% more flights this month, indicating determined efforts toward recovery.

JetBlue Airways (B6): JetBlue Airways operated approximately 29,500 flights in June 2023, reflecting a 4.8% decline compared to June 2019. Additionally, the airline witnessed a relative decline of 4.1% in flight frequencies compared to May 2023.

ANA - All Nippon Airways JA897A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Photo: Max Langley/Airways

All Nippon Airways (ANA): In June 2023, All Nippon Airways operated around 26,200 flights, experiencing a decline of 17.4% compared to June 2019. Moreover, ANA encountered a relative decline of 3.4% in flight frequencies compared to May 2023.

Azul Airlines (AD): Azul Airlines demonstrated strong recovery efforts in June 2023, operating close to 26,000 flights, showcasing a 12.8% increase compared to June 2019. Despite a minor 1.9% decline compared to May 2023, the airline remains on a positive trajectory.

British Airways (BA): British Airways operated just above 25,500 flights in June 2023, facing a 19.8% decline compared to June 2019. Additionally, the airline encountered a modest decline of 1.3% compared to May 2023.

British Airways Boeing 777-200ER LHR EGLL
The British Airways Boeing 777-200ER is one of the oldest airframes in the fleet; 23 years old on average. Photo: Johann Heske/Airways.

Japan Airlines (JL): In June 2023, Japan Airlines showcased positive signs of recovery, operating approximately 25,482 flights, reflecting a 2.7% increase compared to June 2019. However, the airline experienced a decline of 3.3% in flight frequencies compared to May 2023.

Global Recovery: A Story of Resilience

As airlines worldwide navigate the complexities of the post-pandemic era, the flight frequency data for June 2023 presents a diverse picture of recovery efforts. Some airlines demonstrated remarkable resilience, with steady growth towards pre-pandemic levels. Others face significant challenges, striving to regain their pre-crisis pace amid fluctuating travel demands and evolving global situations.

N2352U - United Airlines - Boeing 777-300ER (B77W) - SFO KSFO. Photo: Rohan Ramalingam/Airways.

While the Big Three US carriers continue facing challenges in regaining their pre-pandemic pace, budget carriers like Ryanair and IndiGo soar high, showcasing their ability to cater to changing travel needs and preferences. European carriers like easyJet navigate the complexities of the post-pandemic landscape, aiming to bridge the gap to pre-pandemic levels.

In the East, Chinese carriers lead the way, exceeding their June 2019 flight frequencies and positioning themselves as drivers of global aviation recovery. Their success underscores the importance of adapting to changing circumstances and seizing emerging opportunities in the aviation market.

Looking ahead, the path to full recovery may not be smooth, as the industry grapples with aircraft, parts, and labor shortages alongside fluctuating travel demands. However, the collective determination and adaptability demonstrated by airlines worldwide signal a bright future for the aviation industry as it continues to soar toward pre-pandemic skies.

A6-EVH, EMIRATES AIRBUS A380-800, KLAX LAX. Photo: Yifei Yu/Airways

While growth rates may slow in the coming months, the unwavering determination of airlines worldwide continues to unfold chapters of an aviation tale like no other.

Feature Image: American Airlines N836AA Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Photo: Luca Flores/Airways