Transavia: the low-profile ‘LCC’ that’s #2 at Amsterdam

Image: Transavia first aniversary
Elizabeth and James Innies from East Kilbride were the first to check-in when Transavia celebrated the first anniversary of its Glasgow Prestwick-Amsterdam service last year. The lucky couple received a bouquet of Dutch tulips and two free return tickets to Amsterdam.

Among European airlines there are a growing number of hybrid carriers that typically started out as pure charter airlines and have developed a significant ‘seat-only’ or scheduled presence in recent years. The highest profile of these is probably Air Berlin, but Monarch, Sterling and Thomsonfly would also be considered in this category. One airline that is often overlooked is Holland’s Transavia, now an independent subsidiary of KLM, which has been profitable for 29 straight years.

One reason for its low profile (despite a recent redesign of its corporate identity) is its lack of any eye-catching aircraft orders. The fleet has grown little in size from 24 B737s in 2000 to 28 in 2007, though four additional aircraft were leased last year during the peak summer period.

Chart: Transavia traffic FY99/00 - FY06/07
Source: Transavia annual reports

Despite this, traffic has still grown, though on average by just under 7% per annum during the last seven years as more short-haul routes have been started to increase the number of sectors flown.

Logo: Basiq AirBasiq-ally not a real airline

When Transavia decided to enter the scheduled market in late 2002 it created a brand and separate website under the name Basiq Air. Seats were sold on existing Transavia flights operated by Transavia aircraft. By summer 2003 a network of 14 routes from Amsterdam was being operated, most at least daily, under the Basiq Air banner, including such low-cost favourites as Alicante, Barcelona, Faro, London Stansted, Madrid, Milan Bergamo and Nice. Less predictably Bordeaux, Naples and Seville were also served. However, Bordeaux and Marseille were short-lived routes and were dropped from 1 June 2004.

During 2004, a mini-base was created at Rotterdam to serve nine routes including Barcelona Girona, Berlin SXF, Dublin, London Stansted (which had been moved from Amsterdam) and Stockholm Skavsta, all of which were served daily.

At the end of 2004 Basiq Air was absorbed back into a revamped (rather like SAS did with their Snowflake LCC brand) and the airline continues to operate a mix of scheduled and charter flights. According to Transavia, last summer the airline operated to 31 scheduled destinations and 77 charter destinations of which 37 could be booked on a seat-only basis.

#2 in Amsterdam with 7% share

Image: Transavia airline
Transavia’s current winter timetable includes 26 scheduled destinations from Amsterdam Schiphol.

In 2006, Transavia was the second busiest airline at Amsterdam Schiphol airport with 30,375 aircraft movements, of which 16,577 were classified as scheduled and 13,798 as charter. The total represents around 7% of all Amsterdam’s movements and was an increase of 7.6% on the previous year.

This winter the airline is offering 26 scheduled destinations from Amsterdam ranging in frequency from double-daily flights to Barcelona and Milan Bergamo, to twice-weekly flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada in Egypt.

Good deals to Spain in late January

An analysis of fares for outbound travel from Amsterdam to those destinations that Transavia serves (almost) daily reveals that in mid-to-late January Madrid and Valencia offer some good deals if flights are booked a few days in advance. Naples is by far the most expensive and Copenhagen the cheapest, though it is also the second shortest sector studied. Fares drop rapidly after the weekend, with all routes available for under €100 next week.

Table: Transavia one-way fares from Amsterdam
Source: Airline website on Wednesday 16 January
Fares include all taxes and charges


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