|The collapse of Sterling Airways came shortly after the airline had put its summer 2009 programme on sale, which contained 59 routes. The airline carried nearly 4.4 million passengers in 2007.|
The sudden collapse last week of Danish-based but Icelandic-owned Sterling Airways will have come as a shock to Scandinavian air passengers. The airline had only recently put its summer 2009 programme on sale consisting of 59 routes, of which 29 were to be operated from its home base in Copenhagen. In 2007 the airline carried nearly 4.4 million passengers and this summer operated a fleet of 26 737s including four -500s (with 126 seats), 15 -700s (with 148 seats) and seven -800s (with 189 seats). Some of these were acquired when the airline took over local rival Maersk Air in 2005.
Copenhagen was biggest base; London busiest route
Not surprisingly, Copenhagen was the airline’s biggest base and each summer it had been adding more new destinations reaching 37 this summer. With a large number of leisure routes the airline operated significantly fewer routes in winter than in summer.
Summer 2009 (planned)
|Source: OAG and airline press release|
An attempt to start a base in Helsinki in 2006 was quickly scrapped. Sterling’s share of Copenhagen’s capacity last summer was just over 10% compared with around a 45% share for SAS. During the peak summer month of August 2008 the airline operated a total of 98 routes involving 40 airports across Europe. All of these have been added to anna.aero’s exclusive Route Recycle Bin spreadsheet.
|Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 August 2008|
Outside of the obvious Scandinavian centres London Gatwick ranked as the fourth busiest airport for Sterling with direct services from Aalborg, Billund, Copenhagen, Malmo, Oslo and Stockholm Arlanda. In fact, during August Sterling provided more seats (and flights) between Copenhagen and Gatwick than on any other route.
More obvious ‘summer sun’ destinations such as Alicante, Malaga and Nice also feature along with established city-break destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona and Rome. Paris ranks just outside the top 15 with 12 weekly flights (split across Aalborg, Billund and Copenhagen).
Sightings of Sterling aircraft were rarest at Trieste and Varna which were each served just once per week from Copenhagen.
easyJet and Norwegian already recycling routes
Within days of Sterling’s collapse Norwegian announced that it would be starting routes from Copenhagen to Aalborg and Stockholm this week, with Alicante, Malaga and Nice all starting in the next few weeks. easyJet has also been quick to step in and announce a new route from its Gatwick base to Copenhagen starting on 15 January 2009.
Struggling SAS will also be heaving a big sigh of relief as the demise of Sterling removes a direct competitor on over 30 of its routes.