Posted on 14 February 2011
Turkey Booming – European winter capacity down by 2.3%; UK and Spain struggling
Analysis of airline schedule data provided to OAG for the beginning of the current winter season indicates that seat capacity at Europe’s over 600 airports is down around 2.3%. Given that load factors of AEA member airlines has been dropped two percentage points in recent months, this makes it likely that passenger demand will be down around 5% across Europe’s airports.
Euro top five report cuts; Rome, Istanbul buck trend
A more detailed look at Europe’s busiest airports shows that of the top 15 (measured by scheduled seat capacity this winter) only four are reporting year-on-year growth. Spain’s two biggest airports are both showing significant capacity cuts as a result of various factors including the new high-speed rail link between the two cities, a major economic downturn in Spain and significant capacity reductions in soon-to-be-merged local LCCs clickair and Vueling, as well as struggling Spanair. Source: OAG.
The 20% reduction in Gatwick’s capacity is misleading as last year’s figures included capacity provided by First Choice (around 7% of Gatwick’s scheduled total). This winter the airline, which has now merged with Thomsonfly, no longer categorises its flights as scheduled. Several transatlantic carriers moved their operations to Heathrow as soon as they were allowed to (at the end of March 2008). And while British Airways has shrunk capacity by 33%, easyJet has used slots gained from the acquisition of former BA franchise partner GB Airways to raise its Gatwick capacity by almost 21%. However, latest traffic data for Gatwick confirms that passenger numbers were down almost 7% in September.
Rome and Istanbul are seeing capacity growth for different reasons. Rome is benefiting from Alitalia’s decision to ‘de-hub’ Milan Malpensa and focus its network on Rome. Istanbul on the other hand is benefiting from Turkish Airlines’ rapid and profitable growth.
UK, Spain suffer most; Turkey’s looking good for Christmas
Analysis by country reveals that among the major markets the UK and Spain are suffering most. Germany is only slightly down, as is Italy thanks to opportunities being filled by a contracting Alitalia, while France is actually up 4.4%. Denmark’s significant reduction captures the demise of Sterling and the problems affecting SAS. However, Norwegian, Transavia, easyJet and Cimber Air have already announced new routes and capacity at Copenhagen in the coming months so Denmark’s situation will be considerably better by early 2009. Source: OAG.
Thanks to Istanbul and Turkish Airlines, Turkey is showing sustained growth across the winter season. No other top 20 country market is growing as fast. Ukraine and Latvia may be growing faster but from much smaller base markets.
Three of Europe’s previously booming new member states appear to be struggling this winter. Scheduled capacity is down in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. However, more recent member Romania is still reporting 10% capacity growth. Source: OAG
Capacity growth of over 15% is only being reported by six of the top 40 airlines; Turkish (+15.7%), Norwegian (+36.5%, helped by its acquisition of Flynordic), Air One (+17.8%), Aegean Airlines (+23.4%), airBaltic (+25.2%) and Turkish airline SunExpress (+63%).
14th November 2008