The 11 Countries That Have Brought Back The Most Domestic Flying

Vietnam, with its borders still closed to the world, actually has more domestic flying scheduled now than they had a year ago. Vietnam is one of the countries that did the best battling COVID-19, despite sharing a land border with China. They haven’t had a single death.

South Korea clamped down on virus spread quickly and effectively. Granted it’s largely the earlier, less infective strain they were dealing with. Nonetheless they’re a real success story so far. Their domestic airline capacity never declined more than one third, and it’s now over 90% of what it was a year ago.

China, too, has brought back substantial flying – and is at nearly 85% of the domestic seat capacity that it was a year ago. That may not be all driven by demand, but by a mandate to keep workers employed and the economy moving even when flights aren’t full.

One that’s a bit more vexing is Russia, which has among the most confirmed COVID cases in the world, where spread hasn’t slowed very much, and where in many places hospitals are still more likely they were during the Soviet era than not.

The CAPA Centre for Aviation used OAG schedule data to come up with the countries that have restored the most flying, and I include the top 11:

% 2019
Country Domestic Capacity
1 Vietnam 125%
2 South Korea 93%
3 Russia 87%
4 China 84%
5 Norway 83%
6 Japan 74%
7 Turkey 58%
8 Indonesia 57%
9 Mexico 55%
10 Thailand 54%
11 USA 52%

In contrast, domestic flying in the U.K. is only at 17% of what it was a year ago. And South Africa, which is currently battling a major outbreak along with a bankrupt flag carrier, is seeing less than 10% of the seats flying inside the country that it was at the same time in 2019.

Currently Colombia is seeing just 1% of the domestic flights that it did a year ago, with both Avianca and LATAM in bankruptcy.

And of course there are some countries where there’s no domestic flying, like Hong Kong and Singapore, but that was true before as well.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Keep in mind that the UK domestic market has been hurt quite a bit by the loss of flyBE – British (London) Airways was really only flying from Heathrow, Gatwick and City to ABZ, EDI, GLA, MAN, BHD, INV, JER, NCL and a couple more. flyBE was doing a lot of the point-to-point flying around the UK.

  2. I don’t recall needing much domestic flying when traveling to Korea. Jeju and Busan maybe, that’s it.

  3. There’s a handful in South Korea. Sacheon, Ulsan, Yeosu in the south all have service to Gimpo.

    Jeju has service to quite a few cities on the mainland – a lot more than just Seoul and Busan.

  4. Just on your final paragraph – Singapore is a country, yes, but Hong Kong isn’t (though there might be some who wish it).

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