Nice airport welcomes 11 airlines starting new routes since early 2008

Image: Nice Runway
Classic arrival: Since the beginning of 2008 Nice has welcomed over a dozen new services from a wide range of airlines. (Our thanks to Stephan Trotzenberg for the photos in this article.)

Nice Côte D’Azur airport has long been the busiest airport in France outside of Paris and last year handled just over 10 million passengers down fractionally from 2007. Traffic grew rapidly at the airport during the late 90s when easyJet (now the airport’s second biggest scheduled airline) and other low-cost carriers (such as Virgin Express) started serving the airport in a big way. easyJet flights from London Luton began in June 1996, Liverpool in 1997 and Geneva in 1999, though domestic flights to Paris CDG and Paris Orly did not start until June 2002 and June 2003 respectively.

Chart: Nice annual traffic 1990-2008
Source: Nice Côte D’Azur airport

The creation of airlib Express (in 2002) and its subsequent demise (in 2003) had a significant impact on traffic in those years as the airline was operating 11 daily flights to Paris Orly as well as daily flights to Lille and Metz. In the first quarter of 2009 passenger numbers are down 12% not helped by the extra day in February 2008 and Easter shifting from March into April this year.

Domestic / International split almost 50:50 in Q1

Image: easyJet landing in Nice
easyJet is the leading international airline with a 21% share (first quarter of 2009) on 13 international destinations plus domestic services to both Paris airports.

Domestic routes accounted for almost exactly 50% of traffic in the first quarter of 2009 with demand down just 7.8% compared with last year. International traffic is down over 15% with EU traffic down 19.2%. However, non-EU international traffic is down just 5.2%. Air France remains the dominant carrier with 36% of the airport’s passengers down just 8% from a year ago. The airline operates 15 domestic routes this summer including around 120 weekly departures to Paris Orly which represents almost 45% of all its Nice flights. Air France serves just two international destinations this summer from the airport; London City (daily) and Tunis.

International traffic is much more seasonal than domestic traffic with a major peak in July and August. easyJet is the leading international airline at the airport (with a 21% share of all passengers in the first quarter of 2009) and will offer flights to 13 international destinations this summer, plus domestic services to both Paris airports. Apart from nine destinations in the UK easyJet also serves Basel, Berlin Schönefeld, Brussels and Geneva.

Chart: Nice airport seasonality
Source: Nice Côte D’Azur airport

Copenhagen and East Midlands lead new services

Since the beginning of 2008 Nice airport has welcomed over a dozen new services from a wide range of airlines.

Destination Airline Start Date FPW Competition in S09
Athens (ATH) Baboo 4 Apr 09 1
Copenhagen (CPH) Norwegian 13 Nov 08 2 Cimber, SAS, Transavia
Copenhagen (CPH) 8 Dec 08 5 Cimber, Norwegian, SAS
Copenhagen (CPH) Cimber Sterling 9 Feb 09 2 Norwegian, SAS, Transavia
East Midlands (EMA) bmibaby 1 Apr 08 3 easyJet
East Midlands (EMA) easyJet 2 Apr 09 3 Bmibaby
Edinburgh (EDI) easyJet 24 Apr 08 3 FlyGlobespan
Gothenburg (GOT) City Airline 12 Mar 09 3
Jersey (JER) Flybe 24 May 08 1
London Gatwick (LGW) Aer Lingus 20 Apr 09 14 easyJet
Riga (RIX) airBaltic 17 Apr 08 3
Stuttgart (STR) Lufthansa 5 Apr 08 2 Airberlin
Venice (VCE) Baboo 29 Mar 09 6
Source: new routes database
FPW: Frequencies per week
Image: Gatwick to Europe aer lingus ad
The latest new service on April 20th is part of the major Aer Lingus expansion at Gatwick.

Three carriers have stepped in to the void left by the demise of Sterling last year on the Copenhagen route. With SAS also serving the market this route is unusually competitive. To see how fares compare across the four airlines see this week’s farewatch. (link to farewatch) Aer Lingus also began a Belfast International service in April 2008 but this has not been resumed this summer in the face of strong competition from easyJet. However, it is now trying its luck against easyJet on flights from London Gatwick. In addition to these new routes Emirates now serves Dubai non-stop rather than via Rome Fiumicino which it did last summer. Apart from the loss of several services from Sterling when it collapsed last autumn, Nice has also seen Air France axe its Geneva service (still served by Baboo and easyJet) and easyJet drop its Dortmund service last March.

Image: Baboo plane
Baboo’s new Athens service started April 4th.

Cannes, Monaco GP and MIPIM impact yields

Nice is close to where a number of major events take place each year ranging from the Monaco Grand Prix, to the Cannes Film Festival and something called MIPIM, the international market for real estate professionals, held annually in March in nearby Cannes. In previous years easyJet fares from the UK to Nice (and back) have been spotted as high as £800. Even now, over 10 months before the event, easyJet’s Luton-Nice fare on 15 March 2010 is £176.99 while the return Nice-Luton flight on 19 March 2010 is £185.41. One week earlier and one-way fares are under £30.

Image: MIPIM, expensive air travel
If they’re going to MIPIM they had better have booked early. In previous years easyJet fares from the UK to Nice (and back) have been spotted as high as £800 ($1,400).


Comments are closed