Iberia-British Airways merger creates third European mega-legacy carrier; each has different global network focus
With British Airways and Iberia having apparently finalised the terms of their merger, anna.aero was curious to see how the global networks of the now three major European airlines with global networks compare. In terms of passenger numbers in 2009, British Airways (32.3 million) and Iberia (20.5 million) transported a total of 52.8 million people. This is still significantly fewer than the 70.2 million for Air France (47.9m)/KLM (22.3m) and 87.4 million for Lufthansa (53.2m) and its subsidiaries Austrian (8.5m), bmi (7.4m), Brussels Airlines (4.7m) and Swiss (13.6m).
However, in terms of ASKs (available seat kilometres) in 2009, the figures for the three airlines are much closer with Air France/KLM leading the way with 250.5 billion, followed by 235.9 billion for Lufthansa Group, and 205.5 billion for British Airways/Iberia. (Source: AEA) This is only for scheduled traffic operated by the main airlines and does not include low-cost subsidiaries, such as bmibaby, germanwings and Transavia.com, or airlines in which the airlines have a major share, such as Vueling in Iberia’s case.
All three airlines serve over 90 non-European destinations
Ignoring European destinations, according to OAG schedule data for April, Air France/KLM has the greatest global network reach, serving 118 airports across the rest of the world. This compares with 105 for Lufthansa Group and 99 for British Airways/Iberia.
Despite serving the most non-EU airports, Air France/KLM is the leading carrier in only one of the five geographic regions analysed; Africa. British Airways/Iberia is top for Latin America (mostly Iberia) and North America (mostly British Airways), while Lufthansa Group has the widest choice in Asia and the Middle East.
Lufthansa’s “weakness” in Latin America (serving just Buenos Aires, Caracas, Mexico City and Sao Paulo) can be explained by looking at the alliances they belong to. Star Alliance used to have both Mexicana and Varig as members in Latin America, but the former left in 2004 and the latter in 2007. However, the Brazilian carrier TAM is expected to join Star next month. Lufthansa’s “strength” appears to be in Asia where it serves 30 destinations, eight more than either of the other airlines. Most of these are served non-stop from either Austria, Germany or Switzerland, but some are served as one-stop flights, such as Kuala Lumpur (via Bangkok) and Jakarta (via Singapore).
Only British Airways makes it all the way to Australia
If weekly flights from the airports in the region are analysed, the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various carriers remain mostly unchanged.
|Lufthansa et al|
|Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 12 April 2010|
Lufthansa now has twice as many flights to the Middle East as its rivals with Tel Aviv (53 weekly departures) and Dubai (35 weekly departures) the two busiest airports. British Airways/Iberia under-performs in Asia with Iberia not operating any service to the region. However, BA aircraft do at least make it all the way to Australia (Sydney via Bangkok and Singapore) unlike any of the other carriers here who rely on their alliance partners to take European passengers ‘down under’.
New York JFK leading North American airport for all three airlines
Summarising the top three airports in each region for each carrier highlights the importance of New York in North America, Sao Paulo in Latin America, Bangkok in Asia, and Dubai and Tel Aviv in the Middle East. The table below shows the number of weekly departures for each carrier at their top three airports in each region.
|Lufthansa et al|
Tokyo Narita (27)
Shanghai Pudong (25)
Hong Kong (14)
Tokyo Narita (28)
|Latin America||Fort de France (34)
Sao Paulo (19)
|Sao Paulo (27)
Buenos Aires (21)
Mexico City (21)
|Sao Paulo (19)
Mexico City (7)
|Middle East||Dubai (25)
Tel Aviv (21)
|Tel Aviv (28)
Abu Dhabi (14)
|Tel Aviv (53)
|North America||New York JFK (45)
Los Angeles (29)
|New York JFK (67)
|New York JFK (49)
Chicago O’Hare (33)
|Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 12 April 2010
* Does not include BA’s franchise operation with Comair in South Africa as BA does not own Comair
The appearance of Tripoli at number three in BA/Iberia’s African destinations may come as a surprise to those who recall the many years of political animosity between the UK and Libya. However, BA now serves the Libyan capital with twice-daily flights from London Heathrow.
Aficionados of alliances will have fun spotting the links to important bases of alliance partner airlines such as Cairo (Egyptair/Star), Chicago O’Hare (United/Star), Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific/oneworld), Miami (American/oneworld) and Shanghai (China Eastern/joining SkyTeam in 2011).