Lyon Airport’s growth stable in 2013; Air France and HOP! dominate France’s #4 airport
France’s fourth largest facility, Lyon Airport has grown its traffic impressively in the recent years. Located in the central east of the country, the airport serves the prosperous region of Rhône-Alpes, which is considered to be one of the Four Motors of Europe (along with the Italian Lombardy, Spanish Catalonia and German Baden-Württemberg). As shown in another anna.aero feature, over the last decade, total passenger numbers at Lyon increased by 38%, propelled by the rise in international traffic, which grew by 51%, as opposed to just 20% for domestic traffic. While the airport’s achievements have been recently recognized by the European Investment Bank by means of a €140 million loan that will help fund on-site infrastructure development, Lyon Airport is also a recent winner of the highly-desired anna.aero Cake of the Week Prize.
Steady growth preserved in 2013
Lyon Airport is France’s fourth busiest airport, and second busiest (after Nice) outside of Paris. Last year, passenger numbers grew by a modest 0.2% to 8.45 million, which still made it the airport’s busiest year ever. Similar results have been achieved so far in 2013; in the first three quarters of the year, 6.59 million were served, an increase of 1.8% on the corresponding period of 2012.
Unlike in 2011, when Lyon Airport’s biggest rivals among France’s regional airports grew less quickly (Toulouse (13.4%), Marseille (5.7%) and Nice (0.2%), 2012 brought about a change of fortunes and, at 0.2%, traffic at Lyon grew somewhat slower that its closest competition (respectively 8.1%, 12.6% and 7.4%).
Entering Lyon’s monthly passenger data for 2012 into anna.aero’s Seasonal Variation in Demand (SVID) calculator, the airport performs exceptionally well, generating a score of 1.62, an “excellent” rating. With over 70 seasonality performance evaluations complete, the airport can be proud of its mid-table ranking, beating airports like New York JFK and Copenhagen. To give Lyon a fair evaluation, we also ran calculations on French regional airport peers Marseille (4.51) and Toulouse (1.40), with the airport comparing favourably.
HOP! becomes the dominant carrier
The decision by Air France to consolidate its regional traffic under one brand had significant effects on Lyon Airport’s traffic structure. HOP!, Air France’s new subsidiary, took over most of the traffic the latter had at the airport and in October 2013 it commands 41.3% of all frequencies and 26.5% seats. However, its parent company has maintained its presence in Lyon and it continues to operate services to key domestic destinations like Paris CDG, Paris Orly, Nice and Toulouse.
easyJet is the second-largest player in Lyon and in October 2013 it commands 12.4% of weekly frequencies and 18.4% seats. The low-cost carrier increased its offering at the French airport by 8.1% compared to October 2012, even though it actually dropped one route – the thrice-weekly Milan Malpensa service. Of the top carriers, four recorded a double digit growth in the course of last year — KLM (+33.3%), British Airways (+28.6%), Aigle Azur (+17.6%) and Tunisair (+11.8%). While the former two relied on building out the frequencies on existing routes (respectively to Amsterdam and London Heathrow), Aigle Azur also added twice-weekly flights to Bejaia in Algeria, while Tunisair added a once-weekly flight to Tozeur.
Four French cities make it into Lyon’s Top 10
Of the total of 78 destinations served from Lyon Airport this October, 34 are offered with at least twice-daily frequencies. At nearly 6,500 weekly seats, Bordeaux is by far the largest destination from Lyon. 58 weekly flights are offered to this western French city, of which 16 weekly are operated by easyJet (one more than a year before) and the remaining by HOP!, which not only took over the 30 weekly frequencies previously operated by its parent company Air France, but also added further 12 weekly flights. Three other French cities, Toulouse, Nantes and Paris CDG, are served with more than 40 weekly frequencies from Lyon and as a result the top 5 list is populated largely by domestic routes.
The busiest international destination this October is Brussels, which saw a slight capacity decrease (-8.7%) as compared to October 2012 owing to Brussels Airlines’ frequency reduction (24 weekly down to 19). Three of the top foreign destinations noted double-digit frequency increase — Amsterdam (+33.3%), London Heathrow (+28.6%) and Düsseldorf (+12.5%).
Four new services in a year
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|Source: Innovata / Diio Mi Oct 2013|
While many routes were launched at Lyon in the course of last year, the airport also gained four new destinations that were missing from its network before. Perhaps most importantly, Emirates decided to enter the underserviced Lyon region by connecting the city to Dubai, as well as key commercial hubs in the East. As explained at the time by the airline’s Thierry Antinori, EVP Passenger Sales Worldwide: “Business traffic to and from Lyon is expected to have a strong tie to the city’s banking, pharmaceutical and biotech industries.” Nearly 12 months down the line, the cooperation seems to be working out just fine. The remaining new destinations involve one city each in Morocco, Spain and the UK.