Lyon sheds anti-LCC reputation with easyJet announcement

Image: Lyor Terminal
Lyon-Saint Exupéry’s is refurbishing an existing charter facility into a dedicated LCC terminal. The €1.2 million development is described as “not a very big investment” – a low-cost approach which will please its users enabling passenger handling fee of €1.50 compared to €9 at its other two terminals.

In 2006 low-cost carriers contributed just 4.1% to Lyon airport’s traffic figures, the lowest percentage of any of the biggest French airports with the exception of Strasbourg where the figure was a big fat zero. Lyon’s traffic has grown modestly in recent years climbing just 11.4% in the last five years. French domestic traffic accounts for around 40% of Lyon’s traffic and has barely grown in recent years.

Chart: Lyon Airport Traffic 2000-06
Source: Lyon Airport

Since 2001 the highest growth has come in the African market (Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria) with growth of over 30% in five years and Italy which has grown 28.7%. Traffic to Spain in contrast has fallen by 16%. Destinations to such relatively obscure places as Oran and Constantine had almost as many passengers as Barcelona. Overall traffic in 2007 is up a more promising 7.5% so far thanks in part to a number of new routes and services.

Chart: Lyon Airport Seasonality
Source: Lyon Airport

In mid-February easyJet commenced daily services to Rome Ciampino and Madrid. Both routes are currently achieving a load factor of around 74% despite direct competition from Air France and Iberia on Madrid and indirect competition to Rome Fiumicino from Air France and Alitalia. Since May easyJet’s London Stansted service (inherited from its acquisition of Go) has achieved monthly load factors in excess of 90%.

Berlin finally served; Barcelona gets very competitive

Image: Map BerlinAt the start of the winter season easyJet will add daily service to Barcelona and Berlin, the latter currently not served by any airline. Click Air will join easyJet on the Barcelona route with four flights per week. Hamburg is also new for winter and will be operated double daily by Regional for Air France. A new double-daily service to Birmingham started in September and Cimber Air will take on SAS and Air France in the Copenhagen market from 28 October. Aigle Azur launches weekly flights to Agadir and Oujda in Morocco and BritAir will serve Florence on behalf of Air France.

Air France has more than half of all traffic

In 2006 Air France carried over 3.5 million passengers through Lyon giving it a market share of over 50%. The next two largest airlines were Lufthansa and British Airways with just 5.3% and 4.4% respectively. easyJet’s market share was just below two per cent but this is all set to change significantly in 2008 when easyJet will become the airport’s second largest airline.

easyJet’s two aircraft base in 2008

Table: easyjet in LyonLast week easyJet announced plans to base two aircraft in Lyon, the first in April 2008 followed by a second a month later. A total of seven new destinations will be served including two domestic ones – Bordeaux and Toulouse which will both be served double-daily. The existing Rome service is also likely to be operated by a Lyon-based aircraft.All of the seven new routes are already served by other carriers but easyJet’s fares are likely to significantly stimulate demand on these routes. Their impact on the high-frequency domestic routes against Air France will be of particular interest to observers.

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