EU membership grows Romanian air travel market by 60% in two years; Blue Air and Wizz Air lead LCC charge

Image: Tarom
Two specialists compete in facilities representing apparent low-cost heaven. Meanwhile (right) next month Tarom begins two new routes to Lyon and Zagreb from Bucharest and has celebrated its 55th anniversary with this specially retro-liveried aircraft.

Since joining the European Union at the beginning of 2007 the demand for air travel to and from Romania has increased considerably. In just two years passenger traffic at the four busiest airports in the country increased by over 60% from just over five million to almost eight and a half million. Liberalisation of the market has enabled competition to flourish and helped the likes of Blue Air, Carpatair and Wizz Air to develop their local bases while also enabling the likes of easyJet, germanwings and Ryanair to enter the market.

Chart: 99-08
Source: ICAO

Bucharest currently served by two airports

Romania’s two busiest airports both serve the capital, Bucharest. Otopeni airport (renamed after local aviation hero Henri Coanda) is the major airport and handled over five million passengers for the first time in 2008.

Chart: Seasonslity
Source: ICAO

The major spike in summer traffic during 2007 can be attributed to the closure of its local rival Bucharest Baneasa airport which closed for runway repair work from mid-May until mid-August. All flights were diverted to Otopeni during this period. Baneasa is just eight kilometres from downtown and was for many years the city’s main airport until Otopeni opened in 1968. So far in 2009 traffic at Otopeni is down around 15% though still above the level of 2007. This is consistent with the fact that flag-carrier Tarom has seen traffic fall by 16% in the first half of 2009.

Image: Welcome to Romania
Welcome, and ciao: Italy dominates with almost 23% of the Romania’s departing seat capacity.

Blue Air bigger than Tarom at six airports

Analysis of international capacity at each of the airports with scheduled services this summer shows that Tarom only operates international services from three of the 11 airports and has less than one-third of international capacity at each of them. However, next month the airline will begin two new routes to Lyon and Zagreb from Otopeni. Local LCC Blue Air operates from six of them while even Wizz Air has international services from four of them.

Chart: Top 11
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 3 August 2009

At Arad, Bacau and Suceava, Blue Air is the only airline offering international scheduled services. Bucharest Baneasa is dominated by LCCs with Blue Air and Wizz Air accounting for almost 90% of flights. Corendon (of Turkey), Germanwings and SkyEurope account for the rest. Until recently also had a significant presence at the airport. easyJet, although initially planning to operate from Baneasa currently operates its two daily services (to Madrid and Milan Malpensa) from Otopeni.
Iasi’s two international routes are to Budapest and Vienna and are operated by Malev and Austrian respectively. Two of the three international routes available from Constanta are flown by Ryanair who thus have 85% of the airport’s capacity.

Italy still leading market; four flights per week to US with Delta

When first examined the Romanian market Italy was the leading country market. Two years on this is still the case with Germany maintaining its second place ranking.

Chart: Top 10
Source: OAG Max Online
OK we ran this item about Carpatair’s 10th anniversary in our August 14 edition. But it’s so good we have to do it again. 10,000 turned out for Carpatair’s 10th anniversary birthday party in Timisoara this summer which featured a live performance from Romanian band Holograf (the music does grow on you). At the official reception, a proud Nicolae Petrov, Carpatair’s CEO, mingled with guests. The next big event for Carpatair will be on 2 October – the start of twice-weekly Ancona-Bucharest services.
Image: TAP
Economic impact: Timisoara Airport Park (TAP) will ultimately provide more than 130,000 square meters of industrial space on a site adjacent to the airport. Foreign investors in the city’s catchment include Siemens, Continental, Nokia, Alcatel and Flextronics.

A total of 32 countries are now served non-stop by flights originating in Romania, with the biggest change being the increased market shares of both Spain and the UK. This can be attributed to increased low-cost flights in these markets. Apart from Western and Central Europe, Romania is also linked to several destinations in the Middle East. Tarom serves Amman, Beirut and Dubai while Syrian Arab Airlines offers a weekly link with Damascus. The only scheduled transatlantic service is offered by Delta, which re-launched its New York JFK service from Bucharest Otopeni earlier this summer using a 767.

Tarom still has over half of the domestic market

Domestic flights are offered by Blue Air (six routes), Carpatair (link to airline profile of 14 Aug 09) (nine routes) and Tarom (12 routes). With its use of larger aircraft Blue Air operates just 13% of domestic flights but accounts for 25% of domestic capacity. Carpatair has 18% of capacity while Tarom has 57%. Unlike in the Ukraine, Wizz Air has yet to launch domestic services in Romania.


  1. Chaser says:

    Tarom is due to reopen the OTP-JFK route operaiting the A310-300 starting from March or April as inside sources from TAROM confirming

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