Scotland: Flybe #1 for domestic services; Ryanair #1 for international routes; easyJet #1 overall

Eastern Airways’ regional operations rank the airline fifth in the domestic market from Scotland. Just last week, the airline’s 10th anniversary of the service between Aberdeen and the Highlands town of Wick was celebrated with a cake by Trudy Morris, CEO Caithness Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Wick Airport Consultative Committee; Kay Ryan, Eastern Airways’ commercial director; and Carol Benzie, Aberdeen Airport’s operations director.

Since last looked at the Scottish aviation market in early 2008, the country’s airports have seen year-on-year falls in traffic levels in 2008, 2009 and 2010. While this is no great surprise, given that UK airports as a whole saw demand decline, Scotland’s four biggest airports combined (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow International and Glasgow Prestwick) shrank faster than the UK average. In 2008, these airports saw passenger numbers drop by 3.1% (UK as a whole 1.9%), 7.9% in 2009 (UK down 7.2%), and 7.2% in 2010 (UK down 3.4%). The three largest of these four airports are all operated by BAA, although not for much longer, as the company has been informed it must divest itself of either Glasgow International or Edinburgh, in a similar way that it was forced to sell off London Gatwick.

Source: UK CAA

Source: UK CAA

One of the reasons for Scotland’s below par performance in 2010 was the demise of Flyglobespan, a Scottish-based low-cost/charter hybrid that began operations in April 2003, but ceased operating just before Christmas in 2009.

Flybe and easyJet overtake British Airways on domestic routes

Three years ago, our analysis showed that British Airways was still the leading airline on domestic routes from Scottish airports. It still serves London City, London Gatwick and London Heathrow from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, but now ranks only third in terms of scheduled domestic seat capacity.

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 April 2011

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 April 2011

Flybe is now the leading domestic airline from Scottish airports, helped by its franchise agreement with Loganair (which took effect at the end of October 2008 when Loganair’s franchise agreement with British Airways ended). easyJet operates domestic flights from four Scottish airports (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness) to various London airports, but also to Belfast and Bristol. These three carriers combined account for 80% of all domestic seat capacity from Scottish airports, although nine other carriers also offer flights on various routes.

Eastern Airways mostly operates from just Aberdeen, while bmibaby operates just two routes from Edinburgh and Glasgow to East Midlands. Ryanair operates only two domestic routes from Glasgow Prestwick to London Stansted and Derry in Northern Ireland. bmi recently axed its Glasgow to London Heathrow service, leaving its Edinburgh to London Heathrow service to account for half of its Scottish domestic capacity.

Loganair, despite operating mostly as a franchise carrier for Flybe, still operates a number of niche routes under its own name, using 8-seat Britten-Norman Islanders. These are all PSO (Public Service Obligation) routes, supported by government funding.

Ryanair and easyJet account for 50% of international seats

Ryanair has two bases in Scotland; at Edinburgh and Glasgow Prestwick. It has more than doubled the number of routes operated in the last three years, although seat capacity has only grown by around 60%. easyJet continues to develop its operations in particular from Edinburgh, from where it added new routes last year to Cologne/Bonn, Lisbon and Paphos.

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 April 2011

Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 4 April 2011

KLM is the leading ‘legacy’ carrier in Scotland for international routes, feeding its hub at Amsterdam with multiple daily flights from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Long-haul carriers Emirates and Continental rank well thanks to daily flights to Dubai from Glasgow, and daily flights from Glasgow and Edinburgh to New York Newark. A total of 23 airlines currently operate international flights into and out of Scottish airports, down from 28 three years ago.

New routes from Scottish airports this summer:

Although easyJet is the #2 carrier in both the domestic and international markets, it ranks #1 overall as Flybe operates no international flights (yet) and Ryanair has just two domestic routes. easyJet is also starting five new routes from Scottish airports this summer (and winter) including a new daily service between Aberdeen and London Gatwick starting in June.

Airport Airline (Route, Launch date, WF)
Aberdeen (ABZ) Aer Lingus Regional (Dublin, 27 March, 6)
Azerbaijan Airlines (Baku, 22 May, 2)
easyJet (London Gatwick, 3 June, 7)
Edinburgh (EDI) Aer Lingus Regional (Shannon, 27 March, 5) (Malaga, 2 April, 2)
Flybe (Knock, 19 April, 3) (Budapest, 21 April, 3)
Blue1 (Helsinki, 29 April, 2)
Iceland Express (Reykjavik, 13 June, 2)
easyJet (Tenerife Sur, 19 September, 2)
easyJet (Athens, 20 September, 3)
easyJet (Grenoble, 17 December, 2)
Glasgow International (GLA) (Alicante, 31 March, 4) (Palma, 31 March, 5) (Faro, 1 April, 3) (Nice, 1 April, 2) (Tenerife Sur, 1 April, 2) (Paphos, 3 April, 2)
easyJet (Jersey, 25 June, 3) (Dalaman, 7 May, 2) (Geneva, 23 December, 2)
Glasgow Prestwick (PIK) Ryanair (Malta, 14 April, 2)
Source: new route database
WF: Weekly frequency

One notable planned new route is a twice-weekly service linking the oil cities of Aberdeen and Baku (in Azerbaijan) with Azerbaijan Airlines slated to start non-stop operations on 22 May.


  1. Arthur Dent says:

    easyJet announced yesterday (20 April) that it will resume flights to Amsterdam from Glasgow from 31 October. The route operated between August 2001 and summer 2005.

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