Route droppings this winter at Europe’s biggest airlines

Route Droppings

At we love to share with our readers the excitement of airline route launches, something the airlines themselves are obviously very keen to promote to help lure customers to the new services being offered. However, airlines also have to make the tough decision, from time to time, of dropping routes that they may have served for many years. This may be due to changing economic conditions, changing tastes, political instability or competition. This week, we take a look at some of Europe’s biggest airlines, and examine which non-stop routes they will not be operating this winter from their main hubs, which were operated last winter. Some of these routes were discontinued at the end of the winter 14/15 season, while others are still operating but will cease operating in the coming months. We’ll start by looking at Europe’s biggest legacy carriers.

Lufthansa withdrawing from three Russian routes

Europe’s biggest flag-carrier is responding to economic circumstances by dropping three Russian routes from its Frankfurt hub. The fall in oil prices and the impact on cities reliant on the energy business has also seen the airline decide to terminate its Stavanger service after 12 years. The Accra suspension is a bit different as Brussels Airlines (in which Lufthansa has a significant stake) will be taking over this route from its Brussels hubs at the end of October. Given airberlin’s tie-up with Etihad Airways it was less of a surprise when Lufthansa ended flights to Abu Dhabi at the end of March. Finally, Lufthansa suspended its own flights between Munich and Rotterdam at the end of March 2015, but now codeshares with bmi regional, who began operating the route on 30 March.

From To Country Date of last operation
Frankfurt (FRA) Abu Dhabi (AUH) UAE 29 March 2015
Accra (ACC) Ghana 1 October 2015
Moscow (VKO) Russia 31 August 2015
Nizhny Novgorod (GOJ) Russia 7 September 2015
Samara (KUF) Russia 6 September 2015
Stavanger (SVG) Norway 25 October 2015
Munich (MUC) Rotterdam (RTM) Netherlands 28 March 2015
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.
bmi regional

bmi regional stepped in to replace Lufthansa when the German flag-carrier suspended operations between Munich and Rotterdam at the end of March 2015. Lufthansa now codeshare with bmi regional on the route.

Turkish Airlines retreats from Yemen, at least for now

Globe conquering Turkish Airlines is clearly not keen on dropping services. The only destinations not operating this winter from the airline’s main base at Istanbul Atatürk are Aden and Sanaa, both in troubled Yemen. However, according to OAG data both destinations could be resumed at the end of next March, though this is clearly dependent on external circumstances.

From To Country Date of last operation
Istanbul (IST) Aden (ADE) Yemen 11 April 2015
Sanaa (SAH) 12 April 2015
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

British Airways about to say farewell to Almaty and Entebbe services

The UK flag-carrier does not drop many routes from its main hubs in London. However, having launched flights from London City to Rotterdam in March 2014 the airline clearly noticed a decline in the profitability of its Heathrow operation to the same airport, which ceased operations at the end of the winter 14/15 season. This coming October sees two more destinations disappear from the airline’s network; Almaty in Kazakhstan and Entebbe in Uganda. Both are currently served by the airline’s elderly 767s.

From To Country Date of last operation
London (LHR) Rotterdam (RTM) Netherlands 28 March 2015
Entebbe (EBB) Uganda 2 October 2015
Almaty (ALA) Kazakhstan 11 October 2015
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

Air France dropping four routes in four countries this winter

After dropping a leisure route to La Romana in the Dominican Republic back in April, Air France’s network planners have taken the axe to four routes this winter; one long-haul and three in Europe. Like Lufthansa, Air France is dropping its Stavanger service at the end of the summer season, having only launched the route in March 2014. Routes to Verona in Italy and Vigo in Spain will also be dropped from the end of October, though both of these leisure destinations might potentially be relaunched next summer by Air France’s in-house LCC Transavia. The dropping of the airline’s thrice-weekly service to Kuala Lumpur comes just 30 months after the route was launched in April 2013. According to the airline the problem on this route was low yields rather than demand, so Malaysia Airlines will soon be able to enjoy a monopoly on the route once again.

From To Country Date of last operation
Paris (CDG) Kuala Lumpur (KUL) Malaysia 24 October 2015
La Romana (LRM) Dominican Republic 5 April 2015
Stavanger (SVG) Norway 24 October 2015
Verona (VRN) Italy 24 October 2015
Vigo (VGO) Spain 24 October 2015
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

SAS swops London airports from Gothenburg

SAS has been reluctant to cut routes this winter. Despite competitive pressure from Norwegian and other carriers in the Scandinavian market we were only able to identify one route that is being dropped this winter and that was the airline’s Gothenburg to London Heathrow service. But even this is not what it seems as SAS is launching flights from the Swedish airport to London Stansted the following day, taking on Ryanair no less.

From To Country Date of last operation
Gothenburg (GOT) London (LHR) UK 25 October 2015
Stockholm (ARN) Oulu (OUL) Finland 27 February 2015
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

LCC droppings not so easy to identify

The problem with analysing Europe’s multi-base LCCs such as easyJet, Ryanair, Norwegian and Vueling, especially during the winter season, is that routes that have been suspended during the winter months may still end up operating during the summer months on a seasonal basis. However, has identified a few routes that do appear to be ending later this year. These include easyJet’s Hamburg-Copenhagen, Manchester-Moscow Domodedovo and Milan Malpensa-Casablanca services. In addition the LCC announced in June that it would be closing its base at Rome Fiumicino next year, while continuing to serve the airport from other bases across its network.

Analysis of OAG schedule data suggests that Ryanair is not operating as many as 45 airport pairs this winter that it was last winter. However, some of these are routes that have been moved between nearby airports (Rome Ciampino to Rome Fiumicino, Kaunus to Vilnius and Girona to Barcelona), while others were actually dropped at the start of the summer 2015 season. The remainder are likely to be seasonal cancellations that would expect to see operating next summer, so don’t really count as route droppings.

Finally, a route that is particularly sad to see go (from mid-September) is CityJet’s service between London City and Dresden. This means that, yet again, there will be no direct air services between London and Dresden. Given that easyJet already serves Dresden from its Basel base, would love to see the carrier launch service from one of its London bases to the German city.


  1. Rumpelstiltskin says:

    Ryanair announced their summer 2016 schedule from London’s 3 aiports including their biggest base, Stansted, on the same day you published this article… it’s not that hard to figure out which summer 2016 routes seem to have been dropped.
    And yes, many of the destinations being dropped match the pattern of in-the-middle-of-nowhere whch is probably consistent with Ryanair moving away from their former business model

    Routes likely terminated from Stansted on or before April 2016:
    Rijeka, Rodez, Tampere, Clermont-Ferrand, Marseille, Strasbourg, Clermont-Ferrand, Kefalonia, Skelleftea, Haugesund

  2. Stuart says:

    As you mention above from mid-September CityJet’s service between London City and Dresden terminates. Do you have any incline if anyone would be interested in a direct air services between London and Dresden.?

    • I think it needs to be a low-cost airline rather than a regional/legacy airline. As I mentioned easyJet does serve DRS but only from BSL. Maybe Germania (who operate LGW-Erfurt) could be interested. Here’s hoping.

      • Skydreamer57 says:

        If the LCC option would be valid, it would be a mid-day operation most likely. A double daily service by a regional airline seems to me a more interesting solution. The LCC equipment is too large and will not be able to reach 85% LF on the LON – DRS market.

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