Major European LCCs; Ryanair growth slows to single digits while easyJet carried fewer passengers in February

Image: Ryanair - O’Leary
This week Ryanair announced seven new routes to Allgaeu-Memmingen airport in Bavaria – and re-christened the airport “Memmingen (Munich West)” – it lies around 100km from the Bavarian capital. Routes include Alghero, Alicante, Barcelona Girona, Barcelona Reus, Dublin, London Stansted and Pisa.

Latest available figures for eight of Europe’s biggest LCCs, shows that only two, Norwegian and Ryanair, have reported continued growth in all months since January 2008. While February’s figures do not take into account the extra day in 2008, this only accounts for 3.4 percentage points of difference. Even with this adjustment easyJet reported a monthly traffic drop possibly for the first time in its history.

Even Ryanair saw its legendary double-digit growth fall to just 7.6%, though with the February adjustment this would be over 10%.

Chart: European LCCs: Passenger development
Source: Airline websites, UK CAA

All other reporting LCCs experienced traffic falls in recent months with SkyEurope and Vueling passenger numbers down 20%. While Vueling’s financial position has improved as it has cut back capacity (and it is about to merge with clickair to gain further financial synergies) the future of SkyEurope still looks uncertain with no figures available yet for February.

Chart: European LCCs: Monthly load factors
Source: Airline websites, AENA, UK CAA
Note: Load factors for bmibaby, clickair and are “flown”, all others are “booked”.

Load factors reached their seasonal low in January and have started to recover well in February led once again by easyJet. clickair’s load factors, derived from actual flown passenger data provided by AENA, are consistently below those of its competitors. The difference between “flown” and “booked” load factor (which includes no-shows and staff travel) varies but is typically around five percentage points. Even allowing for this difference (which also applies to bmibaby and clickair’s load factors are still among the lowest being reported among LCCs.


  1. Henrik says:

    You are running a very informative site with very interesting stories and analysis. Among those European LCCs is there any possibility, that you in future follow up on load factor and passsenger development will include Transavia, and Wizz Air? replies: We would love to report on Transavia and Wizz Air but neither airline makes its data public. We could use OAG schedule data as a proxy and assume that load factors have remained constant but a significant proportion of Transavia’s network is operated as charter services. Latest OAG data for summer 2009 shows that Wizz Air’s capacity is up some 25% on last year, so passenger numbers might be up at least 20%. The airline has reported carrying 5.9 million passengers in 2008 which is around 40% more than in 2007.

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