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Trimeresurus
Topic Author
Posts: 119
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2017 6:06 pm

Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Sun Jan 17, 2021 2:59 pm

Hello

One thing that caught my attention greatly is, despite travel being completely restricted for tourism for most of the world, and most of the business meetings now being converted to online, how are there so many passenger airplanes moving around? For example I see a Turkish Airlines 77W departing from IST to BKK in 3 AM local time, who's really in that plane other than the pilots and flight attendants? Are these "ghost planes" operating empty because the cost of storage is simply more than keeping them flying at loss? I am talking about international flights here, and especially long haul ones. I really wonder who goes from Istanbul to Bangkok in covid era at 3 AM and why.
 
Eikie
Posts: 137
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:15 pm

Re: Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:04 pm

You'd be surprised how full flights are..
 
Dalmd88
Posts: 3201
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2000 3:19 am

Re: Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:05 pm

Belly cargo is still flying all over the world. At Delta we even started a few international routes just for belly cargo.
 
MIflyer12
Posts: 10061
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

Re: Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Sun Jan 17, 2021 3:10 pm

Carriers publish load factors. There may be some relatively full planes here and there.

Some carriers give capacity/revenue/load factor guidance. Just a few days ago Alaska Air Group said it expected January load factor to be 35-40%. That's not full.
 
DylanHarvey
Posts: 455
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2018 5:45 pm

Re: Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Sun Jan 17, 2021 8:00 pm

I was on KLM from ORD and back to ATL. Roughly 15-20 empty seats on the 333, and on the 78X maybe around 70 to 80.
 
FlyHappy
Posts: 1159
Joined: Sat May 13, 2017 1:06 pm

Re: Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Sun Jan 17, 2021 8:29 pm

Trimeresurus wrote:
Hello

One thing that caught my attention greatly is, despite travel being completely restricted for tourism for most of the world, and most of the business meetings now being converted to online, how are there so many passenger airplanes moving around? For example I see a Turkish Airlines 77W departing from IST to BKK in 3 AM local time, who's really in that plane other than the pilots and flight attendants? Are these "ghost planes" operating empty because the cost of storage is simply more than keeping them flying at loss? I am talking about international flights here, and especially long haul ones. I really wonder who goes from Istanbul to Bangkok in covid era at 3 AM and why.


That 77W is definitely not a "ghost", and it certainly isn't cheaper for TK to fly it than store it... not remotely close.
I'd wager a fair sum that its belly was full of very well paying cargo (in both directions) - including perishables and high value items like electronics, seafood... maybe even vaccines/pharma/PPE.
Any pax would just be incidental (as Thailand has a very restrictive entry policy).
 
debonair
Posts: 4321
Joined: Sat Jan 03, 2004 10:50 pm

Re: Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:59 pm

Trimeresurus wrote:
For example I see a Turkish Airlines 77W departing from IST to BKK in 3 AM local time, who's really in that plane other than the pilots and flight attendants?


It is the perfect time, what's wrong with that? This flight fits well with the Western arrival wave, ideal for connection passengers. Btw. TK68, the passenger flight, is leaving at 01:55AM, arriving at BKK at 3PM, perfect for connection to *A partner TG evening wave!
 
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PITingres
Posts: 1375
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2007 1:59 am

Re: Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Mon Jan 18, 2021 12:58 am

There's more to flying than business and tourism. Just for example, my wife and I were on airplanes a few times last October to deal with an elderly parent who had fallen; we had to help move her to an apartment closer to another family member, we had to clean out her condo and sign up a real estate agent to sell it, etc etc. Not everything can be done remotely, especially when you're dealing with a lifetime of accumulated "stuff". Fortunately for us, my parents had already cleaned out a lot of it, but it still took 3 or 4 iterations to deal with it all. (and not all the stuff was going to the same place, which complicated things.)

Not all business work can be conducted remotely, either. Specialty physical maintenance and troubleshooting usually requires one to be onsite. I'm fortunate in that I was already working out of a home office, but some jobs simply don't allow for it.
 
Kent350787
Posts: 2047
Joined: Wed May 28, 2008 12:06 am

Re: Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:25 am

SYD has (usually) during Covid a weekly cap of 3,500 overseas pasenger arrivals - the agreed capacity of hotel quarantine. NZ arrivals are outside this cap.

Yet we see:
QF - A333 daily to multiple ports
United - 2xdaily, (usually 1x77W, 1x789)
AA - daily 77W
Delta - daily A359
Cathay - 2xdaily (1x77W, 1xA35K)
Singapore - 1xdaily A359
Etihad - 1xdaily 789
Qatar - 1xdaily A35K (I think)
Emirates - 1xdaily 77W (about to cease temporarily)
Garuda - daily A333
Malaysian - daily A333
Air China - multiple daily A333
Air Canada - Daily (I think), multiple types
China Southern - daily, incluing 1xA380 each week
Asiana - multiple times weekly

Plus at least another 10 airlines flying regualr widebodies ata range of frequencies (Sri Lankan, LATAM, Xiamen, Air India, Korean all come to mind)

Plus dedicated cargo from Singapore, Cathay and QF, as well as the dedicated freight airlines. And the Singapore A380 fleet plus almost 50 of Cathay's 773 are stored in central Australai

So, most flights to Australia are mostly cargo, with some also/or carrying passengers. No ghosts (although I suspect the China Southern A380 is for rating purposes)
 
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tigerzhong13
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2019 11:42 pm

Re: Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Mon Jan 18, 2021 12:11 pm

although I suspect the China Southern A380 is for rating purposes


China has frequency restrictions for carriers (typically 1 per country per carrier per week) flying to a specific country. Hence flights to China need their biggest aircraft to overcome this restriction.

Even ICN-CAN and NRT-CAN are all A380s.
 
Trimeresurus
Topic Author
Posts: 119
Joined: Fri Jun 02, 2017 6:06 pm

Re: Travel restrictions and fullness of airplanes

Tue Jan 19, 2021 12:00 am

I still don't get how there could be more than half the passenger traffic of the pre covid era when such a small percentage of population would be eligible right now for international travel.

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