Lufthansa (and partners) and airberlin dominate German routes to Vienna and Zurich

Image: Airport Terminal

The recent approval for Lufthansa to take control of Austrian Airlines may beg the question as to what may happen to traffic between Germany and Austrian’s home base of Vienna. Given that Lufthansa also has control of Swiss this week takes a look at how traffic has developed in recent years between Germany and the major cities of Zurich and Vienna.

Between 2001 and 2008 passenger numbers have more than doubled between German airports and Vienna from just over two million in 2001 to well over four million last year. Similar growth has been experienced on flights to and from Zurich. The introduction of lower costs flights by airberlin and germanwings in these markets has clearly helped stimulate demand.

Chart; Passengers
Source: Destatis

The dip in Zurich demand in 2002 was a result of the demise of Swissair in 2001. Since 2002 the Vienna market has grown by 109% and the Zurich market by 111%.

Frankfurt #1 for Vienna, Berlin #1 for Zurich

Analysis of traffic flows in 2008 by individual airport reveals that Frankfurt generated 50% more passengers to Vienna than any other German airport while Berlin Tegel had the strongest traffic flows to and from Zurich.

Charts: Airports
Source: Destatis
airberlin and NIKI – it’s the same thing of course.

airberlin bigger than Lufthansa in both markets

Analysis of scheduled capacity by airline in both markets reveals that airberlin is bigger than Lufthansa in terms of scheduled seat capacity. However, if Lufthansa’s low-cost subsidiary germanwings is added then the combined share is greater in both cases.

Germany – Vienna market Germany – Zurich market
airberlin 29.2% Swiss 49.6%
Lufthansa 24.9% airberlin 23.4%
Austrian 24.4% Lufthansa 20.9%
Germanwings 8.4% Germanwings 5.2%
Niki 6.4% Cirrus 0.8% 2.5% OLT 0.1%
Others 4.2%
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 5 October 2009

On the Vienna market non-Lufthansa aligned carriers have just over 40% of scheduled capacity but on the Zurich market they have less than 25% of scheduled seat capacity. However, without airberlin (and its Austrian partner niki) these markets would be almost a complete monopoly for Lufthansa and its partners.


  1. Interesting analysis. But it suggests that LX is much bigger on the Germany to ZRH market than AB. Looking not at capacity but actual local traffic it becomes clear that Swiss is mainly feeding its hub ZRH.

    Local traffic between Germany and ZRH for June 09: AB has 43% of the market, LX 35%, LH 15% and 4U 6%. The LH group is dominating the local market as well but not at the same margin as the capacity figures suggest.

    Source: AirportIS

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