Valencia hosts European Grand Prix; Delta launches JFK flights, Ryanair cuts flights

Just how important is a F1 Grand Prix to a city? Pretty important when an estimated 500 million will be watching this weekend.

Valencia will this weekend host its second European Grand Prix on a street circuit around the harbour area. Despite the non-appearance of seven times world champion Michael Schumacher organisers will be relieved that the Renault team have been re-instated for the race, thus allowing local hero, and two-times world champion, Fernando Alonso to compete on one of his two home circuits.

The airport will undoubtedly be boosted by a variety of special charters and business jets during the event. Valencia Manises airport has had a turbulent year since the first Grand Prix took place in the city. Having become an official Ryanair base in October 2007 the airline withdrew its based aircraft a year later after a dispute with local authorities regarding financial support. However, despite the axing of 12 routes, this summer Ryanair is still offering non-stop flights to 12 other destinations (all Ryanair bases) including new routes to Cagliari and Madrid. In total the number of flights operated by the airline is down only around 30% from its peak last summer.

Chart: Valencia airport traffic 1999-2008 - By country of origin/destination (millions)
Source: AENA

Ryanair has retained all its flights to Italy (Bologna, Cagliari, Milan Bergamo, Pisa and Rome) which has helped grow the Italian market so that it is now bigger than the UK market. Even the revamped Alitalia has returned to the market after initially withdrawing from the airport. Whereas in 1999 the top five country markets (Spain, UK, Germany, France and Italy) accounted for 92% of passenger traffic, last year they accounted for just 83%. In other words traffic beyond these five major markets had more than doubled from 8% of the total to 17% in less than a decade.

Chart: Valencia airport seasonality - Monthly passengers 2005-09
Source: AENA

During the winter season passenger numbers were down 30% compared with the previous year, although the latest figures show that in July demand was down just 14% compared with 2008. Overall, passenger numbers in 2009 are similar to those achieved in 2006 when the airport handled around five million passengers.

Romania sixth biggest foreign market; USA new market

While each of the top three international country markets (Italy, UK and France) saw traffic fall between 2007 and 2008, several other markets saw notable gains including Germany, Netherlands and Romania.

Chart: Valencia top 12 international markets - Annual passengers
Source: AENA

Central European LCCs Blue Air and Wizz Air both operate from Romania and even compete on flights to Bucharest Baneasa. Tarom and Vueling also operate flights in this market. In total six different airports in Romania are linked with Valencia; Arad, Bacau, Bucharest Baneasa, Bucharest Otopeni, Cluj Napoca and Timisoara. Some of these are among the new routes that have been gained by the airport during the last 12 months.

Gained BCM (Blue Air), BJZ (Iberia), BLQ (Ryanair), CAG (Ryanair), DBV (Iberia), FNC (Iberia), JFK (Delta), LEN (Iberia), MAD (Ryanair), MLA (Vueling), MLN (Iberia), OTP (Vueling), TSR (Wizz Air), VLL (Iberia), ZRH (Swiss)
Lost BLL (Ryanair), BLQ (Iberia), BSL (Ryanair), BVA (Ryanair), CMN (Royal Air Maroc), CPH (Sterling), DBV (clickair), DUS (Lufthansa), EIN (Ryanair), FKB (Ryanair), FRA (Lufthansa), FRL (Ryanair), GVA (Swiss), HAJ (TUIfly), HAM (Lufthansa), LBA (, LEN (Lagunair), LHR (clickair), LPA (Spanair), LPL (Ryanair), MLA (Ryanair), MST (Ryanair), MXP (clickair, Volareweb), NCE (Iberia), NYO (Ryanair), OPO (Ryanair), OSL (SAS), SCQ (Ryanair), SOF (Bulgaria Air), VCE (Iberia)
Source: Derived from OAG Max Online for w/c 4 August 2008 and w/c 3 August 2009

The biggest coup for the airport has been the recent launch of transatlantic services to New York JFK provided by Delta. This is currently the only scheduled long-haul service from the airport, but is seasonal, running until October and then restarting next Summer. None of the MEB3 airlines yet link Spain’s third largest city to any of their Middle Eastern hubs.

Iberia still #1 but Lufthansa pulls out

Iberia accounts for over 45% of all scheduled flights representing some 28% of scheduled capacity. Ryanair and Vueling each have between 15% and 20% of seat capacity followed by Air Europa and Spanair. The only other European legacy airlines present are Alitalia, Swiss and Tarom while other leisure orientated airlines include airberlin (feeding its Palma hub), Blue Air, easyJet, Norwegian, Transavia, TUIfly and Wizz Air. Lufthansa has dropped all of its routes to Dűsseldorf, Frankfurt and Hamburg during the last year and not even its low-cost partner Germanwings has a presence at the airport.


  1. Wolfgang Pfeifer says:

    As far as I know Lufthansa still serves DUS from VLC (operated by Eurowings like before)

  2. Bastian says:

    The given information is inaccurate – Lufthansa still flies non-stop to DUS on 6 days a week – pls correct this. replies: You’re right, Lufthansa does serve Valencia from DUS for most of the summer season. However, for the week of analysis (w/c 3 August 2009) OAG and Lufthansa’s own pdf timetable for August ( see page 133) show that the route was not operated for the first few weeks of August. The use of a CRJ on the route suggests that Lufthansa treats this as a business route and therefore temporarily drops the route during the peak summer vacation season.

  3. Malcolm Kettering says:

    What I could never understand is why DUS of all places? For LH, it seems so odd the single flight to VLC isn’t to/from a hub, either MUC or FRA. Now that Spanair is dropping VLC-MUC, we’ll see what LH does.

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