Sterling collapse leaves opportunities at Copenhagen; Norwegian and easyJet already taking advantage

Image: Lego man shooting down a Sterling plane
The collapse of Sterling Airways came shortly after the airline had put its summer 2009 programme on sale, which contained 59 routes. The airline carried nearly 4.4 million passengers in 2007.

The sudden collapse last week of Danish-based but Icelandic-owned Sterling Airways will have come as a shock to Scandinavian air passengers. The airline had only recently put its summer 2009 programme on sale consisting of 59 routes, of which 29 were to be operated from its home base in Copenhagen. In 2007 the airline carried nearly 4.4 million passengers and this summer operated a fleet of 26 737s including four -500s (with 126 seats), 15 -700s (with 148 seats) and seven -800s (with 189 seats). Some of these were acquired when the airline took over local rival Maersk Air in 2005.

Copenhagen was biggest base; London busiest route

Not surprisingly, Copenhagen was the airline’s biggest base and each summer it had been adding more new destinations reaching 37 this summer. With a large number of leisure routes the airline operated significantly fewer routes in winter than in summer.

Airport Routes
Summer 2008
Routes
Winter 2008
Routes
Summer 2009 (planned)
Copenhagen 37 20 29
Stockholm 23 10 16
Billund 9 4 6
Gothenburg 10 4 5
Aalborg 4 3 4
Malmo 6 2 3
Source: OAG and airline press release

An attempt to start a base in Helsinki in 2006 was quickly scrapped. Sterling’s share of Copenhagen’s capacity last summer was just over 10% compared with around a 45% share for SAS. During the peak summer month of August 2008 the airline operated a total of 98 routes involving 40 airports across Europe. All of these have been added to anna.aero’s exclusive Route Recycle Bin spreadsheet.

Chart: Sterling’s top 15 airports
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 August 2008

Outside of the obvious Scandinavian centres London Gatwick ranked as the fourth busiest airport for Sterling with direct services from Aalborg, Billund, Copenhagen, Malmo, Oslo and Stockholm Arlanda. In fact, during August Sterling provided more seats (and flights) between Copenhagen and Gatwick than on any other route.

More obvious ‘summer sun’ destinations such as Alicante, Malaga and Nice also feature along with established city-break destinations such as Amsterdam, Barcelona and Rome. Paris ranks just outside the top 15 with 12 weekly flights (split across Aalborg, Billund and Copenhagen).

Sightings of Sterling aircraft were rarest at Trieste and Varna which were each served just once per week from Copenhagen.

easyJet and Norwegian already recycling routes

Within days of Sterling’s collapse Norwegian announced that it would be starting routes from Copenhagen to Aalborg and Stockholm this week, with Alicante, Malaga and Nice all starting in the next few weeks. easyJet has also been quick to step in and announce a new route from its Gatwick base to Copenhagen starting on 15 January 2009.

Struggling SAS will also be heaving a big sigh of relief as the demise of Sterling removes a direct competitor on over 30 of its routes.


Comments

  1. Maarten says:

    transavia.com, the largest low-cost low-fare airline in the Netherlands is going to start operations in Denmark.

    Due to the disappearance of Sterling Airlines, transavia.com sees good opportunities on the Danish market. “The Danish market is attractive,” says Willem Hondius, Chief Commercial Officer. “We see many opportunities on the charter market as well as the Danish market for regularly scheduled flights, especially for routes that appeal to tourists.” transavia.com’s activities are seasonal in nature; the airline makes more flights during the summer than in the winter. This means that the company has the capacity available to launch this operation on such short notice.

    transavia.com will start operating flights for a major Danish tour operator from Billund Airport on November 6, 2008. The destinations for these flights are Fuerteventura, the Azores (Punta Delgada), Hurghada, Las Palmas and Tenerife. As of December 8, 2008 transavia.com dedicate two aircraft for scheduled flights from Copenhagen to ten destinations: Malaga, Alicante, Barcelona, Faro, Rome, Nice, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Tenerife and Las Palmas.

    Ticket sales start on Friday November 7, 2008 via the transavia.com website and the call centre (901 301 31 Denmark) and the GDS Amadeus.

    anna.aero replies: According to the airline’s timetable tool the weekly frequencies on these new routes are:

    Malaga and Nice (5 per week)
    Barcelona and Rome Fiumicino (4 per week)
    Alicante (3 per week)
    Faro, Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) and Tenerife (2 per week)
    Salzburg (1 per week)

    That’s 28 new weekly frequencies or 14 per aircraft. This suggests each based aircraft will operate two return flights each day. The Innsbruck route (which starts 18 December) had been announced some weeks ago and will operate five times weekly.

  2. Colin says:

    Also note that local airline Cimber Air has announced plans to start operating from Billund to Gatwick. This still leaves Gatwick – Stockholm, Oslo, Malmo and Aalborg in the “route recycle bin”!

    anna.aero replies: According to the airline’s website the route starts on 24 November and will be operated daily (except Saturday).

  3. With the sudden collapse of Sterling Airways and the subsequent stop and no reply on all communications.

    CAN SOME ONE IN THE AVIATION INDUSTRY ADVISE ME WHAT IS THE SITUATION NOW WITH THEIR DEBT tTO THE DIFFERENT SERVICE PROVIDERS?????????!!!!!!!!

    I THANK YOU IF ANY ONE CAN JUST SEND ME THE EXACT ADDRESS OF THE OFFICE IN CHARGE TAKING CARE OF STERLING AIRWAYS DEBTS .

    THANK YOU

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