World LCC route launches: Ryanair +200; over half of Indonesia AirAsia’s network new; Interjet drops no routes
This week anna.aero conducts a major network analysis of 32 of the world’s leading LCCs to determine which airlines have launched (and dropped) the most routes in the last 12 months, and which have undergone the most significant network changes according to a couple of metrics. The 32 LCCs are from all across the globe:
- Asia-Pacific: AirAsia, Cebu Pacific Air, GoAir, IndiGo, Indonesia AirAsia, Jetstar Airways, Lion Air, SpiceJet, Thai AirAsia, Tigerair Singapore
- Central & South America: GOL, Interjet, VivaAerobus, Volaris
- Europe: easyJet, germanwings, Jet2.com, Monarch Airlines, Norwegian, Pegasus Airlines, Ryanair, transavia.com, Volotea, Vueling, Wizz Air
- Middle East: Air Arabia, flydubai
- North America: Allegiant Air, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, WestJet
Analysis was done using Innovata / Diio Mi data for the weeks commencing 12 August 2013 and 13 August 2012. In two cases data was manipulated manually to avoid excessive distortion.
- Thai AirAsia moved 32 routes from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Bangkok Don Mueang Airport (DMK). These have not been included in that airline’s list of dropped or new routes.
- Wizz Air moved 17 routes from Warsaw Modlin Airport (WMI) to Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW) as a result of the temporary closure of that airport. These have not been included in that airline’s list of dropped or new routes.
Ryanair’s 203 new routes: three times more than any other
To possibly no-one’s great surprise, for the umpteenth year in a row Ryanair has launched more new routes in the last 12 months than any other LCC, introducing service between just over 200 new airport-pairs. While this is still three times more than any other carrier, it is almost 100 fewer than it launched in the preceding 12 months.
The battle for second place in this category was keenly fought with five carriers launching between 59 and 65 new routes. Norwegian just edged out easyJet and Wizz Air, while Southwest Airlines and Vueling tied for fifth place. Eight of the top 10 airlines in this ranking are based in Europe, where liberalisation makes it much easier to launch new routes. Only Southwest (US) and SpiceJet (India) broke the European stranglehold in this ranking.
Over half of Indonesia AirAsia’s and Volotea’s networks are new this summer
Analysis of what proportion of an airline’s route network has been started in the last 12 months reveals a very different ranking of airlines. Now, non-European airlines feature more prominently, with the winner in this category being Indonesia AirAsia. A total of 24 of its 44 routes were not operated a year ago, though this includes five routes that were moved from the old Medan airport (MES) to the new one (KNO), and three that were moved from BKK to DMK in Bangkok. Arguably, that means that only 16 of its 44 routes are genuinely new (36.4%).
This would leave relative newcomer Volotea as the winner in this category. The Spanish-based carrier only started operating in April 2012, but has already tried around 130 routes. Just over half of its 91 routes this summer were not operated last August, as the airline rapidly determines what works and what does not, for its low-frequency, highly-seasonal, 717-based business model. Neither Ryanair (14.5%), nor easyJet (10.6%), make it into the top 15 of this metric, highlighting the total size of their networks.
Volotea the “champion of churn”
The top 15 airlines for most route droppings more closely resembles the graph for most new routes, with Ryanair dominating, followed by the likes of easyJet, Southwest and Wizz Air. For the second year running Ryanair has terminated operations on over 100 airport-pairs, with a significant number involving routes to, from and within Spain. Madrid, with 13 routes, beat Budapest and Verona (11 each) for the airports losing the most Ryanair destinations. easyJet is a long way behind with 39 routes dropped, followed by Southwest with 34, and Wizz Air, also with 34.
Volotea, the youngest airline in our basket of carriers analysed, also has the highest turnover of routes. In August 2012 it operated on 70 airport-pairs. Since then it has dropped 25 of those routes, and started an additional 46 routes bringing it up to 91 routes. Ryanair’s 125 dropped routes only represented 9.5% of its total network last summer, ranking it only 12th in this category. easyJet’s 39 route droppings and Southwest’s 34, both represent around 7% of those airlines’ total route network.
Special mention should be made of Interjet of Mexico, which was the only LCC analysed not to drop any routes during the last year. It grew its network from 40 routes to 56 routes with the simple addition of 16 new routes. Honourable mention should also go to Tigerair Singapore, which has dropped just a single route (to Kuching in Malaysia at the end of June), and Canada’s WestJet which also dropped just a single route (from Calgary to Orange County, California) out of a portfolio of over 100 routes.