Austria’s Vienna base serves 39 airports in Central & Eastern Europe; only six not served by rivals

First there was Lufthansa, then Swiss….and then there was a Third Man. When Lufthansa finally gets control of Austrian it will have totally mastered West-East hub traffic by an overwhelming margin.

Details of all 39 routes, frequencies offered by Austrian and its various competitors - Download the spreadsheetWith the attempts by Lufthansa to take control of Austrian dragging on (and on), it seems like a good time to take a different look at what exactly Lufthansa might gain from its acquisition of another hub, this time in Vienna. Austrian’s network strategy in recent years has followed a “Focus East” approach. The airline has consistently based its advertising around the number of destinations it serves in Central and Eastern Europe suggesting that flying with Austrian via Vienna is the best way of getting to all the new countries of the former Soviet Union.

This week examines which other major European carriers with hubs in the region also serve these airports. A total of 39 airports on the Austrian Airlines network were identified as being in Central or Eastern Europe (CEE) including six in Russia, six in the Ukraine and four in Romania. The remaining 23 airports are spread across 18 further countries. Austrian operates at least three weekly flights to all of these destinations.

The other hubs examined were Lufthansa’s hubs at Frankfurt and Munich (just 350 kilometres from Vienna) plus the Swiss hub at Zurich which is now also, in effect, under Lufthansa control. In addition CSA Czech Airlines’ base at Prague, Turkish Airlines’ base in Istanbul and Air France’s base at Paris CDG were also analysed.

Lufthansa serves 50% of Austrian’s CEE routes from Munich

Of the 39 airports served by Austrian in CEE just six were not served by any of the other carriers examined. A further eight airports had competition from just one of the other carrier/airport combinations while another nine airports had competition from two sources.

Airports (bases served from)
0 Iasi, Kharkov, Krasnodar, Podgorica, Sochi/Adler, Varna
1 Astana (FRA), Chisinau (IST), Dnepropetrovsk (IST), Dubrovnik (MUC), Kosice (PRG), Pristina (IST), Sibiu (MUC), Timisoara (MUC)
2 Baku (FRA, IST), Donetsk (IST MUC), Lviv (IST, MUC), Odessa (IST, PRG), Sarajevo (IST, MUC), Split (MUC, PRG), Tirana (IST, MUC), Vilnius (FRA, PRG), Yerevan (CDG, PRG)
Source: Derived from OAG Max Online for w/c 27 July 2009

The remaining 16 airports are all served from at least three of the rival hubs identified. Out of the 39 CEE airports Turkish Airlines serves 23 from Istanbul, while Lufthansa already serves 20 from Munich. It seems unlikely that Lufthansa would want such significant duplication and would look to rationalise any overlap between Munich and Vienna.

For full details of all 39 routes, frequencies offered by Austrian and its various competitors download our free spreadsheet by clicking here.

Austrian has dropped four CEE routes in 2008-09

System-wide during the past year Austrian has dropped 10 routes including four to the CEE region Baia Mare (Romania), Bourgas (Bulgaria), Nizhniy Novgorod (Russia) and Riga (the most significant and only capital city in this grouping). The other routes it has dropped are Chicago O’Hare, Keflavik, London City, Luxembourg, Mumbai, and Nuremburg.

On a macro level the new economies of the CEE have been hit proportionally hard by the downturn as a result of their only very recent rapid expansion and the fact that there have been far less reserves with which to rescue their banks. Austrian’s own geographical performance has mirrored this as passenger numbers for the first half of 2009 show that Focus East passengers (CEE and Middle East) were down 13.8% compared with a decline of 10.2% for the rest of the European network. In the second quarter of 2009 these figures were minus 14.3% and minus 6.5% while in June alone the figures were minus 15.0% and minus 4.4%. In other words, while the non-CEE network is slowly recovering, demand for Focus East routes continues to deteriorate.

Image: Ukraine Airport
Austrian à la Kiev.


  1. Vanni Gibertini says:

    What about MXP in the list of LH hubs?

  2. tab says:

    Why hub in WAW is not taken into account? It is served by LOT, StarAlliance member and which cover Eastern Europe pretty well. replies: See below.

  3. David Henderson says:

    OS/VIE was the original US-style hub operation in Europe. I recall about 1985 spending most of an afternoon at VIE waiting for a flight, when I got there the apron was deserted, about an hour later it was full, and an hour after that it was empty again.

    This type of operation gave OS some very particular characteristics in those days. To make it work they had to start very early in the morning and keep going to late at night, which meant that they had much higher aircraft utilisation than any other European shorthaul operation, but most lower load factor (because of unattractive timings?). Their yields were also way above the average.

    More recently a feature of OS has been the huge number of different aircraft types used, mainline and Arrows. Good for right-sizing aircraft to markets, but at a price?

  4. Jerzy Jemiolo says:

    Indeed, as “tab” suggests why WAW is omitted as a competing hub? Have you already “buried” LO as the STAR partner?

    Although it is not direct operational involvement, only commercial one, you may add also code-shared destinations. It definitely should include CLJ (Cluj-Napoca, c/s with RO). I am not sure about LCJ, BZG, OSR and OHD (all of them are claimed by Jet Air (O2), Central European (3B), and MAT Macedonian (IN), respectively, as partner routes with OS (!?).

    Finally, OS served additional cities in the last 15 years: Katowice (KTW), Wroclaw (WRO), Poznan (POZ), Pecs (PEV), Anapa (AAQ), Almaty (ALA), Tashkent (TAS), TLL (Tallinn), and Mostar (OMO). replies: Thanks for the comments and historic routes. See below for how LOT and Warsaw compare with those analysed.

  5. mk says:

    WAW is not included as it was never a real competior to FRA, VIE I guess and I think that LOT will be integrated into LH anyhow and maybe used as minihub for northeast europe or even downsized to point to point airport (as when LH takes over SAS Copenhagen will be used for the northeast hub).

    Regarding experiences of ’85 I think it’s now 24 years later and now you see the wave system produces still the highest yield in Europe (but also OS has the highest prodution costs…..)

    VIE has now the chance to become a major hub for LH or also be downgraded to point to point airport. If the OS management does a proper job with the VIE team Vienna will be a competitor to MUC and can even be the major hub for LH to Eastern Europe and Middle East with good connections to Asia and two or three destinations to the Americas. replies: Of the 39 CEE destinations served by Austrian from VIE, LOT serves just 12 from Warsaw. These are Begrade, Budapest, Kiev, Krakow, St Petersburg, Lviv, Minsk, Odessa, Bucharest OTP, Prague, Sofia and Vilnius. That’s seven less then Czech Airlines from Prague, which serves all of these LOT destinations except Lviv.

  6. Jerzy Jemiolo says:

    Indeed, LO is less involved in the East than CSA. I would still add also Moscow, despite the other airport. If the number of destinations is the criteria also BUD deserves to be on the list, as MA offers flights to 18 destinations: MOW (SVO), IAS, OKB, LED, ODS, OTP, PRG, PRN, SJJ, SKP, SOF, SPU, TGD, TIA, TSR, VAR, WAW, ZAG. In addition: LJU, TGM, UDJ, CLJ, c/s to KIV. Both ZRH and PAR have less developed eastern links than BUD and WAW do. Simply, I would like wider list of compared hubs. It seems that other readers share that feeling.

  7. Senor LT says:

    It will be pretty much competion in and around Vienna, especially when Ryanair decides to open a Base in Bratislava 🙂

  8. Aiolos says:

    My apologies, but if CDG is counted to the list with its 10 destinations, BUD and WAW shouldn’t be omitted. Not only they directly belong to the Central European region, but have more destinations of this kind.

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