Amazing UK-Poland traffic growth driven by regional demand

UK-Poland traffic growth

As bmibaby this week finally hopes to discover the joys of the Polish market (by launching three new routes from its UK bases to Krakow and Warsaw) the traffic growth between the UK and Poland shows no sign of slowing down. Since joining the EU in May 2004 there has been considerable migration from many of the new member states, especially to the UK. Government statistics estimate that over 60% of new immigrant workers in the UK in 2006 were from just one country, Poland. This helps explain the on-going traffic growth between these two markets.

CHT Central Europe 96-07

Source: UK CAA Airport Data

Since 2005 traffic to the Czech Republic (mainly Prague) and Hungary (mainly Budapest) has declined by 12% and 15% respectively while Polish traffic has grown by 135%. The UK is by some way the number one country market from Polish airports in terms of available seats.

Country Frequency Share Capacity Share
UK 17.1% 27.3%
Germany 18.5% 15.3%
Poland 22.6% 11.9%
Ireland 4.2% 7.2%
France 4.1% 4.6%
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 11 February 2008

Image: easyjet routeThough there are more flights to Germany and within Poland the dominance of LCCs in the UK market mean that capacity is higher in the UK market as the likes of Ryanair (189-seat 737-800s) and Wizz Air (180-seat A320s) use high capacity aircraft.

Another revolution starts in Gdansk – easyJet services to Belfast. The eventual collapse of communism may have been predictable, but what brave network planner would have guessed that such services would have been viable a few years ago?

Wizz Air and Ryanair fight for market leadership

advert wizzPossibly more than any other major country-pair in Europe traffic between the UK and Poland is now dominated by LCCs. At present LOT and British Airways between them supply only 10% of the available scheduled seat capacity.

CHT UK-Pol airlines

Wizz Air and Ryanair each supply around 30% with five other LCCs (three UK airlines, one Polish airline and one Norwegian airline) sharing the remaining 30%. Both Wizz Air and Ryanair currently operate 23 routes between the UK and Poland, easyJet 14 and Centralwings (LOT’s own in-house LCC) 11.

2007 growth came from regional airports

A closer look at traffic during the last two years on an airport-pair basis reveals some interesting trends.

  Pax 06 (m) Pax 07 (m) Growth
London – Poland 2.648 2.822 6.6%
Regions – Poland 0.678 1.509 122.7%
Total UK – Poland 3.326 4.331 30.2
Carried away. Katowice-UK traffic grew over 60% in 2007.
Carried away. Katowice-UK traffic grew over 60% in 2007.

While 17% of the growth came on routes from London area airports, 83% of the growth was generated from UK regional airports where traffic more than doubled to over 1.5 million passengers. London’s share of the UK to Poland market, despite growing in absolute terms by nearly 7%, is down from 80% to 65%.

Krakow UK traffic to pass Warsaw in 2008?

Among Polish airports growth rates in passenger demand to/from the UK have varied considerably in 2007.

Airport UK Pax 06 (m) UK Pax 07 (m) growth
Warsaw 1.047 1.178 12.5%
Krakow 0.727 1.006 38.3%
Gdansk 0.365 0.501 37.2%
Katowice 0.282 0.473 67.8%
Wroclaw 0.245 0.394 60.3%
Poznan 0.200 0.278 39.3%
Lodz 0.154 0.174 13.1%
Rzeszow 0.112 0.128 14.2%
Bydgoszcz 0.113 0.127 12.4%
Szczecin 0.080 0.072 -9.9%
Source: UK CAA Airport data
Poland: A big square country, a lot of big cities, almost 40 million people.

All except Szczecin achieved double-digit growth last year. Krakow is now on-track toovertake Warsaw as the leading airport for UK traffic while both Katowice and Wroclaw have experienced growth of over 60% in 2007. Several additional new routes have already been announced for 2008 creating even more connections between the two countries which could see the market growing to close to 6 million passengers in 2008.

Logo: Gdansk


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