Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and British Airways perform best in EU capitals connectedness analysis

Look who are the good Europeans now!

Britain may be terrible at cooking, but no other European flag carrier beats British Airways for connectedness to the capitals of its European Union partners with 21 services out of a potential 28 (since July when Croatia joined). Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the best connected airport with routes to 26 out of 28 EU capitals.

The ‘capital’ of the European Union (EU) may be Brussels from a political perspective, but here at we found ourselves wondering, which EU capital was the best connected to all the other EU capitals, in terms of non-stop flights. Since 1 July, when Croatia joined the EU, there have been 28 members. For each member state we have identified what we consider to be the major airport best serving the political capital of the country. Then, at each airport, we analysed how many of the other EU capital airports were served non-stop by any airline, and then how many of them were served non-stop by the country’s ‘flag-carrier’ airline.

Is Amsterdam the real capital of Europe for air travel?

No airport manages to be connected to all 27 other EU capital airports, with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol coming closest with 26, followed by Vienna with 25, and Brussels, Copenhagen and Paris CDG all tied on 24. Amsterdam failed to score the maximum because it currently lacks a service to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. In fact, since the demise of SkyEurope in 2009 (which did operate flights to Amsterdam), Bratislava has been poorly served with flights to the major capital city airports of the EU, and currently only has one, with Ryanair, to Dublin. Vienna missed out on two routes; Bratislava (which is only 50 kilometres away anyway) and Tallinn in Estonia. Brussels missed out on the full set by not having direct services to Bratislava, Larnaca and Luxembourg. In the case of Luxembourg, the two airports are less than 200 kilometres apart.

EU Capital Connectedness - I Number of EU "capital" airports served from own capital

Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for w/c 7 October 2013

Apart from Slovakia, the least well-connected capitals were Ljubljana, Zagreb, Luxembourg and Tallinn, each of which has non-stop connections to the major capital city airports in less than 10 other EU member states.

British Airways is leading airline for EU connectedness

Although London Heathrow is connected non-stop to only 23 of the 27 other EU capitals, 21 of these are served by British Airways, a total that no other ‘flag-carrier’ can beat from their home airports. Poland’s LOT comes second with 19 capitals served from Warsaw, with Air France third with 18 from Paris CDG.

EU Capital Connectedness - II Number of EU "capital" airports served from own capital by home "flag-carrier"

Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for w/c 7 October 2013

Two major European carriers ranking much lower than might be expected are Lufthansa (from Berlin Tegel) and Iberia (from Madrid). In Lufthansa’s case this may not be so much of a surprise as its two major hubs in Germany are at Frankfurt and Munich, and in Berlin the country’s second carrier airberlin has its biggest base. However, the fact that Iberia’s biggest base in Madrid serves just eight other European capital airports is genuinely surprising, especially as the airport has non-stop service to 20 EU capitals when all airlines are examined.

Norwegian fastest-growing airline between EU capitals

Comparing data for October 2013 with October 2012 reveals that airlines have started 44 new services between the EU’s major capital airports. This includes four new services from Air Lituanica, the recently launched, new flag-carrier for Lithuania. However, in terms of most new routes between EU major capital airports, the clear winner is Norwegian, with eight new services, followed by SAS with six, and Wizz Air with five.

The EU 28 and their main airports and airlines

For the sake of completeness here is the list of EU member countries, the airports we selected as the capital city main airport, and the country’s leading local airline for international services. It is worth noting that Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are not members of the EU.

Country Capital (Airport code) National Airline (code)
Austria Vienna (VIE) Austrian Airlines (OS)
Belgium Brussels (BRU) Brussels Airlines (SN)
Bulgaria Sofia (SOF) Bulgaria Air (FB)
Croatia Zagreb (ZAG) Croatia Airlines (OU)
Cyprus Larnaca (LCA) Cyprus Airways (CY)
Czech Republic Prague (PRG) CSA Czech Airlines (OK)
Denmark Copenhagen (CPH) SAS (SK)
Estonia Tallinn (TLL) Estonian Air (OV)
Finland Helsinki (HEL) Finnair (AY)
France Paris (CDG) Air France (AF)
Germany Berlin (TXL) Lufthansa (LH)
Greece Athens (ATH) Aegean Airlines (A3)
Hungary Budapest (BUD) Wizz Air (W6)
Ireland Dublin (DUB) Aer Lingus (EI)
Italy Rome (FCO) Alitalia (AZ)
Latvia Riga (RIX) airBaltic (BT)
Lithuania Vilnius (VNO) Air Lituanica (LT)
Luxembourg Luxembourg (LUX) Luxair (LG)
Malta Malta (MLA) Air Malta (KM)
Netherlands Amsterdam (AMS) KLM (KL)
Poland Warsaw (WAW) LOT Polish Airlines (LO)
Portugal Lisbon (LIS) TAP Portugal (TP)
Romania Bucharest (OTP) TAROM (RO)
Slovakia Bratislava (BTS) none
Slovenia Ljubljana (LJU) Adria Airways (JP)
Spain Madrid (MAD) Iberia (IB)
Sweden Stockholm (ARN) SAS (SK)
United Kingdom London (LHR) British Airways (BA)


  1. Robert Hughes says:

    Britain may be terrible at cooking? Says who? With the number of Michelin-starred restaurants rising rapidly, a large number of highly rated restaurants in cities all over the country, supermarkets offering a vast range of produce of a diversity rarely equalled elsewhere, more food fairs and festivals than any other country and practically every other TV programme devoted to cookery, your caption is vastly wide of the mark. Shame!

  2. Dear All,

    Please is it possible to note that SN serves 13 EU capitals from the BRU hub instead of 11, as mentioned in your article.

    13)BMA = Bromma Stockholm

    • Dear Paul,

      Oslo was not included in our analysis as Norway is not a member of the EU. We also only looked at the major airport in each EU capital, so although SN does indeed serve Stockholm Bromma (BMA) airport, it does not serve Stockholm Arlanda which is the major airport for Stockholm. Our figure of 11 is therefore correct.

  3. Lkprak says:

    Sorry, but Bratislava has also connection with Copenhagen (in October 2 flights a week with Norwegian Air Shuttle).

    • According to our schedule data Norwegian’s seasonal (summer-only) BTS-CPH service ended this summer on 29 September, and so didn’t make it into our list. Last year the service did indeed operate in October as well.

  4. soern says:

    It is interesting that Istanbul is connected to all capitals (mostly by Turkish Airlines), except Bratislava (counting Nicosia in Cyprus through Turkish part airport Ercan), thus topping your list.

  5. HuhuLesny says:

    Guys, this article is completely irrelevant. It might be hard to realize from London, but mainland Europe is now without borders. THat means that, for example, Vienna and Bratislava are one catchment area. Therefore, VIE also serves Bratislava and the western half of Slovakia, while BTS is a low-cost terminal for the whole greater Vienna area (including Bratislava). If you want to pick an airport in Slovakia that actually serves Slovakia, then you should have included Kosice KSC which is in the east, and which, by your measure, has regular flights to 4 European capitals Prague, Vienna, London/LTN and Bratislava 🙂

  6. HuhuLesny says:

    PS: I’m not sure I understand why you say that BTS has no “the country’s leading local airline”. Have you heard of Danube Wings?

  7. dieter says:

    In case of VIE it is rather unfair to rank it on 2nd place: a direct air link to BTS does not really make sense because of the short distance (50km). So I suggest, VIE and AMS are the best performing airports in this analysis. Unfortunately Estonian quit TLL-VIE services last year – otherwise VIE would be clear No 1!

    • Pawel says:

      Yes, yes, and if LO did not drop services to ZAG, TXL, BTS and DUB, it would be a clear no. 1 over BA. But it did… Using your line of reasoning, one may say that serving both BTS and VIE does not make sense too and that is why a great majority of airlines serve only one of them (VIE). And where would you draw the line? Helsinki to Tallinn are pretty close too, or Zagreb to Ljubljana, or even Brussels to Luxembourg.

      • Rui says:

        You could draw a line on anything below 60 minutes car drive to city centre, which is what you would take in some of the mentioned airports.

  8. Oldbold says:

    Of course, Amsterdam is not really an EU capital city.

  9. lars says:

    Amsterdam has the best airport in europe and world. Of course it’s europe’s number 1!!

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