UK-Barcelona grows five-fold in 15 years; LCCs dominate as BA and Iberia only serve London

Image: Iberia merger
Not likely to be affected much by the merger: BA and Iberia already have a close cooperation on the UK-Barcelona market. Both carriers only serve the London market leaving LCCs to serve the rest of the UK market.

In 1991, the year before the city held the Olympics, the number of passengers travelling between the UK and Barcelona (which in this analysis includes El Prat and Girona airports) was less than three-quarters of a million. Just 15 years later, this figure would have risen more than five-fold to almost four million. Apart from the fantastic PR generated by the games and a number of major infrastructure improvements, the city became a fashionable city break destination with the introduction of low-cost flights from the UK by easyJet (from June 1996), Go (from September 1999) and finally Ryanair (from February 2003). While easyJet, Go and other UK low-cost carriers have served Barcelona El Prat (BCN), Ryanair has focussed on serving Girona (GRO).

Chart: 87 - 08
Source: UK CAA

In the late 80s, there was more demand to Girona (which serves the Costa Brava resort region) than there was for Barcelona.

Barcelona/Girona served from all UK regions

During the peak summer month of August 2009, there were the following scheduled flights from the UK.

Market Carrier (WF) Airport (WF)
London – BCN
British Airways (48)
easyJet (56)
Iberia (21)
London City (6)
London Gatwick (14)
London Heathrow (28)
London Gatwick (28)
London Luton (14)
London Stansted (14)
London Heathrow (21)
Regions – BCN
Aer Lingus (4)
bmibaby (12)
easyJet (43)
Flyblobespan (4) (7)
Monarch (7)
Belfast International (4)
Birmingham (5)
Cardiff (3)
Manchester (4)
Belfast International (4)
Bristol (11)
East Midlands (7)
Liverpool (14)
Newcastle (7)
Edinburgh (3)
Glasgow (1)
Leeds/Bradford (7)
Manchester (7)
London – GRO
Ryanair (33)
Thomson (1)
London Gatwick (7)
London Luton (7)
London Stansted (19)
London Gatwick (1)
Regions – GRO
Ryanair (54)
Thomson (5)
Birmingham (3)
Bournemouth (7)
Bristol (7)
Doncaster/Sheffield (5)
Durham Tees Valley (3)
East Midlands (7)
Glasgow Prestwick (7)
Liverpool (7)
Manchester (4)
Newcastle (4)
Birmingham (1)
Cardiff (1)
Manchester (2)
Newcastle (1)
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 3 August 2009

easyJet with 99 weekly departures just beats Ryanair with 87, followed by British Airways with 48, Iberia with 21 and bmibaby with 12. The planned British Airways / Iberia merger would have little impact on this route as both carriers are already co-operating closely on the London Heathrow to Barcelona route.

So far there is no sign of Vueling serving the Barcelona to UK market although it does serve London (Heathrow) from A Coruna, Bilbao and Seville. To find out if they plan to in the future, come and listen to Alex Crux, Vueling CEO, at this year’s Airport Exchange in Barcelona on Tuesday 24th November.


  1. Jon says:

    There is a huge market between the United Kingdom and Barcelona not being served; Glasgow!

    You can no longer fly direct between Glasgow International Airport (GLA) and Barcelona Airport (BCN) as FlyGlobespan have axed this route. FlyGlobespan operated this flight daily, carrying over 8,000 passengers per month, all year round. This route remaned profitable till the very end for FlyGlobespan. The airline cancelled this flight due to them wanting to the package holiday type destinations such as Egypt and the Canary Island. Barcelona as a destination does not fit in with FlyGlobespan’s business model.

    This route is ideal for easyJet *hint, hint*.

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