Newcastle enters long-haul era with daily Emirates service

Image: Emirites Tower at dusk
Another ‘Dubai’ landmark – Newcastle airport’s new Emirates Tower.

This week finally saw the long-awaited launch of long-haul flights from Newcastle to Dubai with the commencement of daily flights with Emirates on 1 September. Hailed by the airport as possibly the most important new route in the airport’s history, this is a significant milestone in the airport’s development. Growth has been rapid in the last five years since the launch of low-cost services with easyJet in March 2003.

Image: Emirites advertisment for Newcastle route

Chart: Newcastle Airport Traffic 1997 - 2006
Source: UK CAA

In 2006 Newcastle’s traffic mix was evenly split between scheduled domestic traffic (1.78 million), international scheduled traffic (1.92 million) and international charter traffic (1.71 million).

Traffic in the first six months of 2007 continues to show a positive trend with passenger numbers up by 5.7% to 2.61 million. The launch of the Dubai route could see the airport break through the six million passenger mark by the end of the year

Go’s initiative triggered low-cost boom

Image: EasyJet Route Map
easyJet’s Newcastle network is a combination of high frequency domestic routes, summer sun destinations plus Krakow, Paris and Prague.

easyJet’s decision to make Newcastle a base followed the successful launch of low-cost flights operated by Go to London Stansted in late 2001 after Gill Airways had collapsed in the wake of ‘9/11′. easyJet started with seven routes in the summer of 2003 and this has increased to 16 including seasonal services to Geneva (winter only) and Ibiza, Mahon and Nice (all summer only).

Not all routes have succeeded. Daily services to Berlin Schönefeld, Budapest and Copenhagen airport (which owns 49% of Newcastle) have all been abandoned after failing to deliver sufficient profitability. Although the airline operates only three domestic routes (to London Stansted, Belfast International and Bristol) they account for over 40% of the capacity offered at Newcastle.

The only new routes to have been added this year were to Krakow (four weekly flights since 30 March) and Mahon (twice weekly since 14 July).

Newcastle’s second LCC –

Image: Jet2 aircraft

In the last two years has rapidly established itself as the airport’s second biggest scheduled airline. Since its first service to Murcia in September 2005 the airline has grown rapidly and this summer served 12 destinations although flights to Amsterdam ended at the beginning of June.

When British Airways elected to stop serving London Gatwick earlier in the year stepped in and started three-times daily flights with a wet-leased BAe 146, not generally regarded as ideal for low-cost operations. This winter there are new services to the Canary Islands with weekly flights to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) and Lanzarote (Arrecife).

Regional airlines offer plenty

Although easyJet and are the leading scheduled airlines in terms of capacity UK regional airlines Flybe and Eastern Airways each offer over 10% of total scheduled flights at the airport.

Airline Frequency Share Capacity Share
easyJet 28.3% 33.7% 10.4% 14.7%
British Airways 7.2% 8.8%
Thomsonfly 3.5% 6.6%
Flybe 10.2% 6.4%
Ryanair 3.9% 5.9%
KLM 6.3% 5.1%
Eastern Airways 14.4% 4.0%
MyTravel 2.8% 3.9%
Emirates 1.3% 2.5%
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 03 September 2007

British Airways achieves its third place in terms of capacity purely because of its Heathrow services. Emirates immediately break into the Top 10 thanks to the size of the aircraft used on its Dubai route (278-seat A330).

London services dominate the list of most popular destinations in 2006 with Heathrow followed by Stansted and Gatwick all featuring in the top 10. Summer leisure destinations also feature strongly. Amsterdam is popular as an alternative to Heathrow for connecting flights to destinations not currently served directly from Newcastle.

Chart: Newcastle airports Top 15 routes in 2006
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 03 September 2007

Southampton appears thanks to Flybe’s thrice daily services where it faces competition from Eastern Airways. The airline also flies to Belfast City, Exeter and new for this summer a weekly flight to Limoges in France. Dublin is served by Ryanair who also operate to Milan Bergamo and Barcelona Girona.

Eastern – Regional success with domestic routes

Logo: Eastern airwaysEastern Airways operates only five routes but one of these, Aberdeen, has five flights per weekday using a mix of Saab 2000 and Jetstream 41 aircraft. Eastern also has four daily flights to Birmingham and three daily flights to Southampton. Routes to Cardiff and the Isle Of Man complete Eastern’s Newcastle route network.

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