The cost of weeks of Arab unrest to two of North Africa's most important tourist economies is set out in airline industry data, with at least 100,000 fewer seats a week flying to or from Egypt and Tunisia.
Tourism is vital to both nations and although life is creeping back to normal after revolutions discarded long-time rulers, the further spread of Arab protests and war in Libya have forced airlines to rethink plans for the April tourist season.
In the week before riots caused former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to flee Tunisia on Jan. 14, airlines operated 733 flights to or from the capital Tunis with a total of 107,000 seats, according to specialist aviation data firm Innovata supplied to Reuters.
By the same week in March, as uncertainty shook the region following the stepping down of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the start of a revolt in Libya, airlines had halted 57 weekly Tunis flights and were offering 9,400 fewer seats there a week.
The changes translated to a fall of 6.2 percent in available seat kilometers -- a barometer for airline capacity which measures seats on sale adjusted for the distance flown.
EgyptAir, whose country was engulfed in its own domestic crisis during March, led the cutbacks with a capacity cut of 51 percent, followed by Dubai's Emirates and Italy's Alitalia.
But Saudi Arabian Airlines increased the number of seats on offer to Tunisia by 35 percent while keeping six flights a week.
The data gives no indication of how full the planes were, nor how many flights were cancelled on a day-to-day basis without any changes being recorded in global reservation systems.
But Tunisia's tourism industry, the North African country's top foreign currency earner, ground to a halt in February.
Economies of Egypt & Tunisia
Tourism accounts for over 6 percent of Tunisia's economy and employs roughly 400,000 of its 10 million people.
Egypt's economy also nearly froze during weeks of protests that started on Jan. 25 and some of its main sources of foreign exchange, including tourism, collapsed.
Airlines removed 776 or 32 percent of flights to or from Cairo between Jan. 11 and Mar. 11, according to Innovata.
The number of available seats fell 28 percent, bringing the distance-adjusted capacity down by nearly 30 percent.
EgyptAir alone accounted for 85,000 of the 110,000 weekly seats taken off Cairo runs between Jan. 11 and Mar. 11.
Alitalia, Air France and Emirates all cut capacity by between 40 and 50 percent, but Lufthansa logged no changes in the number of flights or the type of its aircraft.
The figures, supplied exclusively to Reuters, provide an early glimpse of the industry's response to a region's turmoil.
In the most recent official industry figures, airlines association IATA said total Middle East passenger demand grew 11.7 percent in January compared with the same month last year.
The Geneva-based organization on Feb. 28 predicted that political instability would dampen demand in affected areas but gave no forecasts. Egypt, Libya and Tunisia comprise a fifth of the region's international passenger traffic. The North African unrest is the latest blow to an aviation industry recovery already dented by bad winter weather in much of Europe. Carriers also face higher fuel bills as a consequence of the unrest. Oil prices have risen 19 percent since Mar. 11.
Airlines adjust to changes in demand by altering the number of frequencies or changing the size of planes used. However, some airports insist airlines use landing slots or lose them.
By trying to ensure planes are flown as full as possible, airlines aim to protect revenue per seat or yield. This is sensitive to the rate at which planes are filled because seats do not need to be sold at a discount when they become scarce.
In an upbeat forecast, German travel association DRV said on March 4 tourists were returning quickly to Egypt and Tunisia. Both countries are popular destinations for Germans, who spend more than any other nation on holidays abroad.
But Tunisia's tourist minister has suggested arrivals will slide by up to 40 percent in 2011, while credit rating agency Fitch has warned of damage to the economy.
The uncertainty is already visible in airlines' detailed schedules and capacity plans for April, monitored by Innovata.
Air France and Emirates had already been sharply revising down their April capacity plans for Tunis before Western air strikes on neighboring Libya began last week, the data shows.
Tunisia's main tourist season runs from April to June.
Longer term, analysts say airlines may benefit from an investment boom which many are predicting in North Africa once the region stabilizes, but the timing is anything but clear.