easyJet, Norwegian, Ryanair, Vueling and Wizz Air’s “lonely” airports revealed; opportunities identified for future LCC growth

leading low cost airlines with just a single route

Normally the low cost carriers like to ‘join the dots’ by linking their destinations to as many of their bases as possible. By discovering which airports are served by leading low cost airlines with just a single route, anna.aero has uncovered some of the most significant under-exploited opportunities.

Despite the preference for Europe’s multi-base LCCs to have a strong ‘spider web’ network, with destinations served from several bases, there are still some airports where these airlines operates just a single route. This became clear to anna.aero’s Chief Analyst on a recent flight with easyJet from London Luton to Dortmund to visit friends and family. Between July 2004 and October 2008 Dortmund was a base for easyJet, but since then the network has been cut back so that now the London Luton service is the Big Orange’s only route to the airport serving the city which is home to Germany’s second best football team.

This got anna.aero wondering how many other airports are served year-round with just a single route by Europe’s biggest multi-base LCCs. The decision to only consider year-round routes removes a huge number of destinations served only during the peak summer (or winter) season. For the purposes of this exercise the airlines examined were easyJet, Norwegian, Ryanair, Vueling and Wizz Air. Pegasus Airlines was ruled out as it is based in a non-EU country and germanwings was ignored as its network strategy has evolved to basically replace Lufthansa on non-hub connecting flights from German airports other than Frankfurt and Munich.

easyJet: Dortmund just one of 13 airports with just one route

Using Innovata schedule data for February 2014 (representing winter) and August 2014 (representing summer), a total of 13 airports were identified as having just a single year-round easyJet service. Nine of these are served from easyJet’s biggest base at London Gatwick, with the remaining four each served from a different easyJet base.

Chart - easyJet's 13 one-route airports Weekly frequencies in W13 and S14

Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for w/c 3 February 2014 and w/c 11 August 2014.

These 13 airports are spread across 10 different countries with only Germany (Cologne Bonn, Dortmund and Dresden) and Spain (Almeria and Valencia) accounting for more than one airport each. Dresden and Stockholm Arlanda are the most unusual airports as they are only ones served from bases outside of the UK.

Norwegian: 18 single route airports, of which eight are served just domestically

In Norwegian’s case it is worth distinguishing between airports whose only year-round service is a domestic route and those where the route is international. The 10 airports with international routes are spread across nine countries: Austria (Vienna), Estonia (Tallinn), Finland (Turku), Italy (Milan Malpensa), Lithuania (Palanga), Poland (Gdansk and Szczecin), Russia (St Petersburg), Slovakia (Bratislava) and Ukraine (Kiev Boryspil). All of these are served only from Oslo with the exception of Turku which is served from Alicante. Of the eight domestic routes, four are in Norway, two in Sweden and one each in Denmark and Finland.

Chart - Norwegian's 18 one-route airports Weekly frequencies in W13 and S14

Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for w/c 3 February 2014 and w/c 11 August 2014.

Ryanair: Two Czech Republic airports among four airports served with just a single route

Given Ryanair’s massive pan-European network it is maybe surprising that just four airports are served with a single year-round route at present. These four airports are Brest (served from Marseille), as well as Brno (Czech Republic), Leipzig (Germany) and Ostrava (Czech Republic), all of which are served only from London Stansted.

Vueling: Four German airports served with just a single year-round route

Vueling’s network accommodates 14 airports with just a single year-round service. All of them are served from the airline’s main base in Barcelona. There are 10 airports outside of Spain spread across five countries: Austria (Vienna), France (Nice), Germany (Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Nuremberg and Stuttgart), Italy (Naples, Pisa and Turin) and Sweden (Stockholm Arlanda).

Chart - Vueling's 14 one-route airports Weekly frequencies in W13 and S14

Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for w/c 3 February 2014 and w/c 11 August 2014.

Wizz Air: Italian and Norwegian airports account for half of the year-round airports with just one route

Wizz Air operates to a total of 16 airports (spread across 10 different countries) with just a single year-round route. These airports are connected from three different bases (Bucharest, Budapest and Gdansk) plus London Luton and Milan Bergamo (which are not Wizz Air bases). Five of the airports are in Italy and a further three in Norway resulting in these two countries being home to eight of the 16 airports in this analysis.

Chart - Wizz Air's 16 one-route airports Weekly frequencies in W13 and S14

Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for w/c 3 February 2014 and w/c 11 August 2014.

The magnificent seven opportunities

Across these five airlines over 50 airports have been identified, though a few appear in more than one airline list. These seven airports, which welcome “lonely” routes from more than one of the five LCCs analysed, are listed below. Presumably these same airports offer the greatest potential for growth from among the pool of analysed low cost carriers.

  • Almeria (LEI): easyJet (LGW), Vueling (BCN)
  • Pisa (PSA): Vueling (BCN), Wizz Air (OTP)
  • Stockholm (ARN): easyJet (GVA), Vueling (BCN)
  • Tallinn (TLL): easyJet (LGW), Norwegian (OSL)
  • Turku (TKU): Norwegian (ALC), Wizz Air (GDN)
  • Verona (VRN): easyJet (LGW), Wizz Air (OTP)
  • Vienna (VIE): easyJet (LGW), Norwegian (OSL), Vueling (BCN)

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