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Aviation: Airline Capacity vs Airline Frequency – What Is Better?

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Airlines need to keep a balance between having plenty of capacity and having plenty of frequency. An excess of either, and the airline is not able to lean too much in one direction which could damage their value proposition to potential passengers. But which one is more important?

What is airline capacity?

Airline capacity is the planned total seat capacity Airlines expect to offer. Longer routes generally focus on capacity, as larger aircraft with bigger fuel tanks are required for the journey. Change in seat capacity is subject to normal changes in supply and demand and country-to-country air agreements.

Airlines that mainly focus on capacity include:
Turkish airlines: Lagos to Istanbul.

Etihad Airways: Abu Dhabi to Lagos.

What is airline frequency?
Airline frequency is how many services in a set time period an airline can provide. Typically, these are found on shorter routes between two large urban destinations, with business passengers often demanding multiple flights throughout the day.

Airlines that mainly focus on frequencies include:

All Nigerian carriers have a highly frequent domestic arm, focusing on routes such as Lagos to Abuja, to Kano, to Benin, to Enugu, to Port Harcourt.

Also, West African Carriers focusing on West Africa route such As Lagos to Accra, Accra to Freetown.

Which is better?
At first, it might seem that there is no clear answer… but if we look at airline aircraft buying trends, it paints a very clear picture. Large capacity aircraft, like the A380 and the Boeing 747 are on the way out, with no new commercial passenger orders nor any plans for a new design. These aircraft were mainly deployed on large-capacity long haul routes.

Conversely, short-haul capacity aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 has never been more popular. Airlines such as Air peace which order 10 Boeing 737MAX last year are desperate for more aircraft to be able to offer passengers more flexibility and more options. We even see this bleed over into long-haul aircraft design, with the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 offering fewer seats, but still providing the extended range they demand.

Source: Morakinyo Tolu Akindele

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