Luxembourg: The EU country/capital with no low-cost flights!

Map: Luxembourg 450,000 population
Luxembourg and the immediate catchment. Only half the population are native Luxembourgers.

Nestled away in a corner of Europe, surrounded by Belgium, France and Germany lies the EU’s smallest (just 2,500 square kilometres), and most prosperous, country – the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Its population of around half a million may be small but its GDP per person is two and a half times the average of all EU countries. However, on a pan-European scale its biggest claim to fame is probably that of winning the Eurovision song contest five times between 1961 and 1983.

Will new terminal boost traffic?

Image: Luxembourg new terminal

A new terminal capable of handling three million passengers is due to open in 2008. However, based on current traffic trends it will be some time before it reaches capacity. Passenger traffic at Luxembourg’s Findel airport has been growing gently for the last three years but has yet to recover fully from the 12% drop in traffic between 2000 and 2003.

Chart: Luxembourg Airport Traffic 2000-06
Source: LUX airport

The airport offers direct flights to most European countries with the UK and Germany the two busiest destinations served. Business routes to leading financial centres feature heavily among the busiest services with competition existing on the route to London City thanks to Luxair and VLM. Despite the emphasis on business travel the airport follows a typical seasonality profile with peak demand in July and August and troughs in January and February.

Chart: LUX airport Top 10 Scheduled Routes
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 03 September 2007

During the summer months outbound holiday routes to Palma de Mallorca and Oporto are also popular.

Logo: Luxair

Luxair dominates scheduled operations

The national flag carrier Luxair dominates traffic at the airport with over two-thirds of both flights and capacity.

Airline Frequency Share Capacity Share
Luxair 71.0% 69.3%
Swiss 3.8% 5.1%
British Airways 2.9% 4.7%
SAS 5.1% 4.3%
KLM 5.1% 3.5%
VLM 4.8% 3.4%
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 03 September 2007

Image: LuxairThe airline has recently taken delivery of its first Q400s and celebrated with a makeover of its corporate identity. The rest of the airline’s fleet consists of two ERJ135s, eight ERJ145s, two 737-500s and three 737-700s with 141 seats.

Since 2000 the airline has consistently carried between 1.1 and 1.2 million passengers while turnover has increased from €265 million in 2000 to €333 million in 2006. The airline’s lowest fares can be found through their “First Minute” booking tool which highlights lowest available fares. Examples of lowest return fares (including taxes) from Luxembourg in October include London City for €165, Barcelona for €198 and Geneva for €224.

Map: Luxair route map
Luxair’s route map showing a mix of business routes and seasonal holiday routes. There are notably few routes to Central Europe.

Image: Paris 99euro  routeTo coincide with the launch of new service features on the Paris CDG route, and the introduction of the fuel-efficient Q400, Luxair is offering some seats for as little as €99 return.

Why no low-cost carriers?

Despite being at the heart of Europe the airport has, until recently, failed to attract any interest from the European low-cost airline market. However from 28 September Iceland Express will start twice weekly services from Reykjavik, marking the first low-cost flights from the airport.

While Luxembourg only claims to have one major airport a case can be made for considering Frankfurt Hahn as a secondary airport for Luxembourg. According to Hahn Airport’s own research the airport is only 107 kilometres from Luxembourg airport whereas it is 123 kilometres from Frankfurt!

Image: Photo of the European Courts of Justice
Not just banks: The European Courts of Justice

What tourists are missing

While many people will struggle to name any particular feature of Luxembourg that makes it worth a flying visit the fortress and old town were designated UNESCO world heritage sites as long ago as 1994 and the city boasts several new museums including the Museum of Modern Art designed by IM Pei.

Image: Luxembourg advertisingThis year Luxembourg and the neighbouring regions have been designated as one of the European “Cities of Culture” with many special festivals and events running throughout the year. Apart from the city’s reputation as a centre for banking, Luxembourg is also home to various European institutions such as the Court of Justice and European Parliament.


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