AEA member airlines see modest 1.3% growth so far in 2013

Alitalia launched flights from Rome Fiumicino to Abu Dhabi last December. This has helped the Middle East to be the fastest-growing geographic market (+10.6%) for the members of the Association of European Airlines, in the first five months of 2013.

While the Association of European Airlines (AEA) no longer reports its member airlines’ traffic on an individual basis, it does still report on an aggregated basis, split into geographic regions. AEA airlines are mostly Europe’s flag carriers plus airberlin and Virgin Atlantic, as well as cargo airlines Cargolux, DHL and TNT. In the first five months of this year, passenger traffic for these airlines has risen by just 1.3% compared with the same period in 2012. Overall load factor has improved by 1.2 percentage points to 77.9%.

AEA airlines: Passengers by region January 2008 to May 2013 - year-on-year change

Source: AEA

Since the beginning of 2010 this group of airlines combined, has reported growth every month with the exception of April 2010 (the Icelandic ash cloud), and the three-month period from November 2012 to January 2013. However, a look at individual geographic regions shows much greater volatility. The Arab Spring of 2011 heavily influenced traffic trends to North Africa during 2011 and 2012, while domestic traffic has consistently performed below the overall average.

Middle East is fastest-growing market; domestic still shrinking

In 2013 so far, the biggest geographic market ‘Cross-border Europe’ (accounting for just over half of all AEA airline passengers) has seen growth of 2.5%, while the second biggest market ‘Domestic’ has declined by 3.3%. The biggest growth market in every month of 2013 has been ‘Europe – Middle East’ which has seen passenger numbers grow by 10.6%. According to’s analysis of Innovata / Diio Mi schedule data for May 2013 and May 2012, several European flag-carriers have significantly increased their capacity between Europe and the Middle East, including TAROM (+25.1%), Cyprus Airways (+24.3%), British Airways (+14.6%), Air France (+11.9%) and Turkish Airlines (+11.1%).


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