Hamburg maintains fifth place in Germany; routes to Munich and Frankfurt generate 25% of all traffic

Image: Hamburg Airport
Hamburgers love a good deal, after all this is the home of Travel Value. When easyJet considered opening a base, Lufthansa lowered fares and began operating Hamburg-based routes on an aggressive point-to-point basis from just €99 return. (Photo: Michael Penner.)

Germany’s fifth busiest airport saw passenger numbers increase last year by just 0.5%, slightly below the national average of 1.1%. Traffic has virtually doubled since 1991 to almost 13 million passengers. Only in 1996, 2001 and 2002 has traffic fallen while as recently as 2006 demand surged by 12.3% in a single year.

Chart: Hamburg airport traffic 1991-2008
Source: ADV

Lufthansa is the biggest carrier at the airport with around 37% of scheduled seat capacity at present. Air Berlin has around 23% of capacity meaning that Germany’s two leading carriers account for some 60% of scheduled seat capacity. However, neither airline considers Hamburg one of its major hubs.

Airport Pax 2008 (m) Top 4 airlines (share of scheduled seat capacity)
Frankfurt 53.467 LH 61.0%, Condor 3.1%, United 2.0%, SAS 1.7%
Munich 34.531 LH 58.6%, Air Berlin 11.2%, Germanwings 2.4%, Air France 1.8%
Dűsseldorf 18.151 Air Berlin 30.5%, LH 30.3%, LTU 3.3%, TUIfly 3.0%
Berlin Tegel 14.487 Air Berlin 41.2%, LH 26.2%, TUIfly 4.8%, British Airways 3.1%
Hamburg 12.838 LH 37.2%, Air Berlin 23.1%, TUIfly 7.7%, Germanwings 3.3%
Cologne/Bonn 10.343 Germanwings 34.5%, LH 19.2%, Air Berlin 18.0%, TUIfly 17.7%
Stuttgart 9.925 LH 24.1%, Germanwings 21.3%, Air Berlin 13.7%, TUIfly 9.3%
Berlin SXF 6.638 easyJet 40.6%, Ryanair 22.8%, Germanwings 21.8%, Norwegian 3.2%
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 2 March 2009
Image: Gebr Heinemann Travel Value store in Hamburg Airport Plaza
Gebr Heinemann’s flagship Travel Value store in the new Airport Plaza. The airport’s facilities have had to be impressively expanded as traffic has virtually doubled since 1991 to almost 13 million passengers. Hamburg-based Heinemann dominates German travel retail and is a major behind the scenes player globally through its huge wholesale distribution business.

However, when easyJet was rumoured to be considering the airport as a potential base, Lufthansa responded by lowering fares and operating its Hamburg-based routes on a more aggressive point-to-point basis. European destinations were offered from just €99 return.

Domestic routes account for over 40% of traffic

Analysis of traffic data in 2007 reveals that over 40% of passengers at the airport were travelling on domestic flights. Domestic routes account for five of the top seven busiest routes at the airport with the routes to Frankfurt and Munich accounting for almost one quarter of all traffic. On the Munich route Air Berlin competes with Lufthansa but on the Frankfurt route the national carrier has a monopoly. Domestic monopoly routes in Europe with over one million passengers are relatively rare though Air France has several from Paris.

Chart: Top 12 routes at Hamburg Airport
Source: Destatis
Image: German High Speed Rail Network
Surprisingly Germany’s well-developed high speed rail network has not led to the attrition experienced in similar size countries like France and Spain – domestic routes account for five of the top seven busiest with Frankfurt and Munich representing a quarter of all traffic.

International routes are led by Palma de Mallorca followed by Zurich, Vienna and London Heathrow. The leading international country markets in 2007 were Spain followed by Switzerland, the UK, Turkey, Austria, France and Italy. A significant proportion of the traffic to Turkey is carried on charter airlines including locally-based Hamburg International which operates a growing fleet of A319s, of which it has several more on order.

Non-German LCCs serving the airport include Aer Lingus (to Dublin), easyJet (daily to London Luton and Basel) and Norwegian (to Oslo). Ryanair operates a number of routes from Hamburg Lűbeck Airport, which is around 50 kilometres away, where Wizz Air also operates to Gdansk.

Other western European carries at Hamburg airport include Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Finnair, KLM, SAS, Swiss and TAP Portugal, while Central European carriers present include Aeroflot, Aerosvit, airBaltic, CSA Czech Airlines, Estonian Air, LOT and Malev. Long-haul routes this summer will be operated by AirTransat (to Toronto), Continental (to New York Newark), Emirates (to Dubai) and Iran Air (to Tehran).

New routes meet with mixed success

During 2008 a wide range of new routes were started from the airport. Lufthansa began services to Birmingham, Ibiza and Reykjavik while easyJet started flights to Paris CDG. Air Berlin began flights to Corfu and TUIfly.com to Tel Aviv, while there were new regional routes with OLT to Erfurt and with Luxair to Saarbrucken. This winter Transavia.com has commenced ski flights to Innsbruck.

However, some of these new routes have not fared well and Lufthansa’s Birmingham service has been axed (though the route is still served by Flybe), as has the easyJet route to Paris (still served by Air France and Lufthansa). The Erfurt route was also dropped quite quickly. During the last year services to Gdansk (with LOT) and London City (with Lufthansa) have also been lost.

Air Berlin appears to have been successful in driving Lufthansa off routes to Barcelona and Rome while Blue1’s departure may have been influenced by Air Berlin’s decision to start serving Helsinki from this May. Lufthansa also appears to have ceded the Budapest route to Malév.

Image: Transavia.com Innsbruck service
Transavia.com has been operating a daily ski service to Innsbruck this winter.

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