While most of Europe’s LCCs are growing rapidly, the fate of Europe’s major ‘legacy’ airlines is less clear. The Brussels-based Association of European Airlines has 31 members, including all of Europe’s major flag carriers. Year-on-year traffic growth for the major airlines shows some varying results for the first half of 2007.
Many are averaging less than 5% per annum growth, with British Airways and Iberia failing to even reach last year’s figures. BA’s sale of its regional operation BA Connect to Flybe earlier this year helps explain BA’s poor year-on-year performance. Iberia’s decision to hand over many of its European routes at Barcelona to Click Air helps explain its dip since March.
Load factors for these major AEA airlines show typical seasonal effects.
Load factors will be a function of the type of network, with airlines having a higher proportion of long-haul flights generally achieving higher overall load factors. The graph shows two separate clusters Ð KLM, Iberia, Swiss, Lufthansa and Air France in the top band and BA, Alitalia, SAS and Turkish in the lower band.
Among the medium-sized AEA flag-carriers growth has been slightly higher.
While CSA has struggled in recent months, fellow Central European flag carriers LOT and TAROM have shown very positive growth. The merging of SNBA with Virgin Express has given a boost to Brussels Airlines’ year-on-year growth figures, which only look at SNBA for comparison.
Load factors on these medium-sized carriers tend to be lower, reflecting the greater role that domestic and intra-European flights play. Olympic, CSA and Brussels Airlines have so far taken it in turns to have the worst monthly load factors.