Volareweb: Europe’s forgotten LCC

Image: Volareweb.com

Back in the summer of 2004 Europe’s top two low-cost airlines were Ryanair and easyJet. In 2007 nothing much has changed. However, just three years ago the third largest European LCC was Volareweb with a fleet of 18 Airbus A320s operating 43 international and 28 domestic routes. So what happened?

Volareweb R.I.P… Long live Volareweb!

On 19 November 2004 the airline ceased operations. It seemed the end for the airline that was reportedly in dire financial circumstances having grown too quickly since its inception in March 2003. However, things are rarely that straightforward in Italy. A special administrator was appointed by the government to oversee the resurrection of the airline for future sale.

Table: Volareweb in Milan Linate - Summer 2007 - 4 aircraft

And so on 1 June 2005 the airline was relaunched with just two 180-seat A320s, which increased to four by the end of July. From its base at Milan Linate a total of six domestic routes are served plus a double-daily service to Paris Orly which was introduced in September 2005. In the subsequent two years the schedule has changed little.

Volareweb’s market share of flights and seats at Milan Linate is less than 10%. AirOne and Alitalia each have around 25% market share at the airport with Meridiana having a further 14%.

Map: Milan routes

Airline in limbo awaiting court decisions

Volareweb’s future has been uncertain for some time. The airline was put up for sale at the end of 2005 but Alitalia’s bid was rejected by a Rome court after rival AirOne objected on the grounds that Alitalia was basically bankrupt and should not be allowed to go on a spending spree. The ruling was then overturned but various legal challenges kept the matter rumbling on throughout 2006. Given Alitalia’s own problems this year it seems the acquisition has been put on hold, at least for the time being.

Image: Volareweb.com
Lovely livery, shame about the market share: Volareweb has less than 10% of flights and seats at Milan Linate – AirOne and Alitalia have 25% each and Meridiana has 14%.

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