Spanair, #2 in Barcelona and Madrid, on the lookout for a new owner

Image: Spanair lauches new route between Madrid and Munich
Spanair celebrates the launch of flights between Madrid and Munich on 30 March.

Logo: SpanairSpanair began operations (as a joint venture involving SAS) just over 20 years ago in March 1988 as a charter airline serving Spanish resorts from across Europe. Scheduled services only began in 1994, but within three years represented 50% of the airline’s passenger numbers. The airline grew rapidly and by 2001 carried over eight million passengers. After ‘9/11′, long-haul services were dropped and only in the last three years has traffic grown significantly once more.

Chart: Spanair traffic 1994-2007
Source: Spanair

During 2007 the airline carried its 100 millionth passenger. Spanair became a Star Alliance member in April 2003 and last year SAS finally took complete control of the company before announcing its intention to sell it. The current fleet consists of 19 A320s, five A321s and over 30 MD80 variants.

Chart: Spanair seasonality
Source: AEA

Last December and this January scheduled traffic briefly fell below previous year levels, but modest growth appears likely during 2008 while the airline’s future is determined. The airline has yet to place a major order to replace its aging MD80 fleet something any new owners might want to make a leading priority.

Image: Spanair aircraft taking off
SAS has put Spanair up for sale and Spanish rival Iberia is apparently keen to buy. Over 60% of the airline’s fleet consists of ageing MD80 variants complemented by 19 A320s and five A321s. A new owner would be buying the second biggest carrier at both Madrid and Barcelona.

Major force in Spanish market

The airline has developed a significant presence at Spain’s two biggest airports, Madrid and Barcelona, where the airline is ranked second at both in terms of scheduled seat capacity.

Top 6 MAD airlines Capacity share Top 6 BCN airlines Capacity share
Iberia 47.7% clickair 17.6%
Spanair 13.1% Spanair 15.6%
Air Europa 8.5% Iberia 13.7%
easyJet 4.4% Vueling 9.7%
Vueling 3.4% Air Europa 6.3%
Ryanair 2.9% easyJet 5.4%
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 5 May 2008

From Madrid, the airline operates some 620 weekly departures to 31 destinations of which 23 are in Spain. International destinations are focused on Star Alliance partner hubs such as Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Munich, Stockholm and Vienna. The daily route to Munich is the airline’s newest international route.

From Barcelona, the airline operates some 480 departures each week to 26 destinations. The airline serves 20 domestic destinations and flights to Madrid and Palma account for almost one-third of the airline’s capacity at the airport. International destinations are once again mostly to Star Alliance partner hubs such as Copenhagen, Munich, Stockholm and Zurich.


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