This week’s news that Spanish LCCs Vueling and clickair have agreed to merge ends months of speculation. The press release spoke of a “merger between equals” and certainly according to OAG data this appears to be a fair comment. This week clickair is scheduled to operate 1,036 flights while Vueling’s plans indicate 1,034. Vueling currently operates 57 routes to clickair’s 55 so the two airlines are in many ways comparable. It also helps that they both operate 180-seat A320s. In 2007 Vueling carried 6.2 million passengers and clickair 4.6 million, but clickair has been growing much more quickly in recent months.
Flights from 50 airports/20 countries
Between the two carriers a total of 50 airports across 20 countries in Europe are currently served. In Spain the combined entity would operate from 18 airports. A summary of the other countries served is shown in the table below.
|Number of airports||Country (Airport codes)|
|7||Italy (FCO, MXP, NAP, PMO, PSA, VCE, VRN)|
|3||France (CDG, NCE, ORY), Germany (FRA, MUC, TXL), UK (EDI, LGW, LHR)|
|2||Portugal (LIS, OPO)|
|1||Austria (VIE), Belgium (BRU), Croatia (DBV), Czech Republic (PRG), Greece (ATH), Hungary (BUD), Ireland (DUB), Malta (MLA), Netherlands (AMS), Poland (WAW), Romania (OTP), Russia (DME), Switzerland (ZRH), Turkey (IST)|
Barcelona the biggest base by far
Around two-thirds of the combined airline’s existing flights operate either to or from Barcelona. Clickair is already Barcelona’s single-largest airline in terms of passengers. Adding Vueling’s flights will make it dominant with over a quarter of all capacity. In terms of market share the new Vueling (clickair will apparently be absorbed into Vueling) will have a major presence at a number of Spanish airports.
|Airport||Weekly departures||Number of routes||Share of airport capacity|
|Source: Derived from OAG Max Online data for w/c 7 July 2008|
Based on current schedule data the new Vueling will offer over 20% of all seats in Seville (40.3%), Granada (31.0%), Barcelona (27.2%), La Coruna (24.8%), Ibiza (23.4%) and Mahon (21.5%). At Madrid however, its third biggest operational station, it will have less than 4% of scheduled capacity despite operating 12 routes.
|Vueling recently introduced its first logojets in collaboration with MTV. Two A320s have been painted with ‘street art’ while interiors have also been brightened with some colourful headrest covers.|
Reduction in competition on 17 routes
Both airlines are based in Barcelona and currently compete head-to-head on 14 routes from the airport. Current weekly frequencies on these routes are shown below along with frequencies operated by other carriers.
|What the merger is really all about: The 14 routes on which both airlines currently compete from Barcelona represent around 70% of their activities. Removing the heat of this head-on competition will also presumably generate huge savings – or capacity for expansion!|
On these 14 routes clickair currently operates 239 of its 415 weekly departures from El Prat accounting for 57% of its flights. For Vueling these 14 routes account for 194 of the airline’s 254 weekly BCN departures, equating to 75% of its flights. Only on its routes to Paris CDG, Jerez, Madrid and Nice does Vueling not face competition from clickair.
On several routes the new Vueling will become the dominant carrier assuming frequencies are maintained. However, it is more likely that on several routes combined frequency will be reduced in an attempt to improve yields. Apart from these Barcelona routes the two airlines also currently compete head-to-head on Seville to Gran Canaria, Valencia to Milan Malpensa and Bilbao to Malaga.