Lufthansa still twice as big as airberlin on intra-EU flights from Germany

Having previously taken a look at the short-haul market from France, Italy and the UK this week takes a look at the German intra-EU market. Despite the recent rise of airberlin (following the acquisition of dba, LGW and LTU), Lufthansa still offers twice as many seats on intra-EU routes (plus Norway and Switzerland) from German airports. Of the top 15 carriers serving the German short-haul market five have increased their seat capacity in the last 12 months. Ryanair has increased capacity by 19% taking it past TUIfly into third place while fellow Irish carrier Aer Lingus has increased seats by 22% thanks mainly to its new double-daily London Gatwick to Munich service which began this summer.

Iberia, KLM and Swiss have all registered modest growth of between 3% and 4% during the last 12 months. Apart from TUIfly (down 14%) other carriers reporting significant capacity cuts in the German market include easyJet (down 19%), British Airways (down 14%) and SAS (also down 14%).

Chart: Germany to EU27* Top 15 airlines by weekly departing seat capacity *Includes domestic routes, Norway and Switzerland
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 October 2009 and w/c 5 October 2008

Airlines lurking just outside the top 15 and growing fast include Flybe (16th, capacity up 50%), Aegean Airlines (17th, capacity up 20%) and Wizz Air (18th, capacity up 9%).

airberlin bigger than Lufthansa to Greece and Spain

A closer look at the market shares of the five leading carriers on each of the pre-2004 EU country markets reveals Lufthansa has more than 50% of capacity in just two markets; the German domestic market and routes to and from Belgium.

Chart: Germany to pre-2004 EU members - Scheduled capacity share by carrier
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 6 October 2009

airberlin provides serious competition in around half of these country markets and is actually bigger than Lufthansa on flights to and from Greece (as is TUIfly) and Spain. Given the airline’s charter heritage this will come as no great surprise.

Apart from the German domestic market (where the leading five carriers account for over 97% of capacity) it is worth noting that over 90% of capacity to and from Italy is also generated by these five airlines. Even easyJet offers twice as much capacity as Alitalia between these two countries. According to OAG data Alitalia currently offers just three routes to Germany serving Frankfurt from Rome and Milan Linate, and Munich from Rome.

Ryanair is bigger than Lufthansa on flights to Ireland while KLM is much bigger on flights to the Netherlands as it feeds its Amsterdam hub from 10 German airports. The admittedly small market to Luxembourg is dominated by Luxair which offers flights from Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Saarbrucken.

Ryanair a growing threat on international routes

If data for the German domestic market is excluded (where all flights are in effect counted twice) Lufthansa’s dominance on intra-EU international services becomes less significant. The flag carrier now has just 28% of the market (based on seat capacity) compared with 17% for airberlin and 11% for Ryanair. TUIfly and Germanwings have 8.5% and 3.5% of the market respectively, leaving all other carriers to provide the remaining 32%.


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