Europe’s top 5 airports analysed; Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris and Istanbul – the FLAPI hubs compared

Europe’s major hub airports continued to attract new airlines during 2015. Vietnam Airlines arrived at London Heathrow, Xiamen Airlines in Amsterdam and bmi regional at Paris CDG. The latter helped the French hub to pass the 100 airline mark this winter.

Traffic figures for 2015 confirmed that Istanbul Atatürk had overtaken Frankfurt to become Europe’s third busiest airport, with both airports passing the 60 million mark for the first time. With a government decision regarding future runway capacity still on-going in the UK, London Heathrow has still managed to maintain its position as Europe’s busiest airport, handling over 75 million passengers for the first time last year. This week, is taking a look at Europe’s five leading hub airports – at Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Paris and Istanbul – which collectively we call the FLAPI airports. All of these airports handled over 55 million passengers in 2015 and are home hubs to airlines with global networks – Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM, Air France and Turkish Airlines respectively.

Source: ADP, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, DHMI, Fraport, UK CAA.

Source: ADP, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, DHMI, Fraport, UK CAA.

Apart from the rise of Istanbul, the other four airports have maintained their rankings relative to one another since 2007. Between 2007 and 2015, Istanbul has seen its passenger numbers grow by 164%, compared with Amsterdam 22%, Frankfurt 13% and London and Paris CDG both with 10%.

Paris has almost twice as many airlines as Istanbul

A look at the number of airlines operating at each of the FLAPI airports for the current winter season reveals that Paris CDG has broken through the 100-airline mark. Along with Amsterdam these two airports are the only ones among the five to have seen a year-on-year increase in the number of airlines in each of the last two winter seasons. Compared with W13/14 both London Heathrow and Istanbul Atatürk have seen a reduction in the number of scheduled carriers operating at the airport.

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 1 February 2016, w/c 2 February 2015 and w/c 3 February 2014.

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 1 February 2016, w/c 2 February 2015 and w/c 3 February 2014.

While none of the airports has seen the number of airlines change by more than six in the last 12 months, this fails to reflect the significant comings and goings at some of the FLAPI airports. The following table summarises which airlines are new this winter (compared with last winter) and which airlines are no longer serving the FLAPI airports this winter.

Airport W14/15 W15/16 Lost Gained
London (LHR) 79 79 Transaero Airlines, US Airways Eurowings, Vietnam Airlines
Paris (CDG) 97 101 Air Armenia, Air Lituanica, Darwin Airline, Malaysia Airlines, Mauritanian Airlines International, Syphax Airlines, US Airways, Yemenia Yemen Airways Air Astana, Air Madagascar, Atlasglobal, bmi regional, EC Air, Eurowings, Georgian Airways, Iberia, Jetairfly, Tassili Airlines, Tunisair, Turkmenistan Airlines
Istanbul (IST) 57 55 Adria Airways, FlexFlight, Iran Aseman Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Taban Air, Tajikistan Airlines, Transaero Airlines Al-Naser Airlines, Avia Traffic Company, Kuwait Airways, Meraj Air, Turkmenistan Airlines
Frankfurt (FRA) 91 85 Air Armenia, Air Dolomiti, Germania, Luxair, Malaysia Airlines, Transaero Airlines, US Airways Air Arabia Maroc
Amsterdam (AMS) 74 75 Air Lituanica, Darwin Airline, Estonian Air, eurolot, FlexFlight, Jetairfly, Malaysia Airlines, US Airways Air Canada, American Airlines, Atlasglobal, KLM CityHopper, Qatar Airways, Ryanair, Transavia (France), WOW air, Xiamen Airlines
Source: Derived from analysis of OAG Schedules Analyser data for w/c 1 February 2016 and w/c 2 February 2015.

Remember, this is only looking at operations in winter. Some of the “gained” carriers may well have operated previously during the summer, while some “lost” carriers may have gone from year-round to summer-only operations. London Heathrow is the most stable of the airports. Its only losses were Transaero Airlines (which ceased all operations) and US Airways (which merged into American Airlines), while the only newcomers are Eurowings (which is the new name for Germanwings, though flights still operate under both 4U and EW codes) and Vietnam Airlines.

Amsterdam’s achievement in attracting Qatar Airways, Ryanair and Xiamen Airlines in the same 12-month period is impressive, though one of their gained carriers look a little odd. KLM CityHopper (IATA code WA) appears because of a weekly flight to nearby Rotterdam. Also, Transavia’s French operation is listed as a new carrier as it operates under a different IATA code (TO) from that of the Amsterdam-based Transavia, which operates under the IATA code HV.

The appearance of FlexFlight (IATA code W2) under the list of lost airlines at Amsterdam and Istanbul can be explained by the fact that the company was operating flights last winter on behalf of Zagrosjet to Erbil in Iraq. Zagrosjet continues to operate flights to Istanbul using its own IATA code, Z4, but does not serve Amsterdam at this time.

Istanbul passes the 250 destination milestone in winter

In terms of destinations served with non-stop flights, Istanbul passed Frankfurt last winter, but is now already 36 ahead with 262 compared with the German hub’s 226. Paris CDG is closing on Frankfurt, while Amsterdam saw the biggest year-on-year net increase (of five from 211 to 216) among the western European hubs. Despite being the busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers, Heathrow’s route count of just 160 non-stop destinations served means it now lags Istanbul’s main hub by more than 100.

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 1 February 2016, w/c 2 February 2015 and w/c 3 February 2014.

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 1 February 2016, w/c 2 February 2015 and w/c 3 February 2014.

Has any other airport welcomed both Ryanair and Qatar Airways in the same year? Because that’s what Amsterdam Airport Schiphol managed in 2015. As a result the Dutch hub now serves 75 scheduled airlines this winter, a net gain of one over last winter.


  1. Hendrik-Jan Toeset says:

    Ehhhh, AMS gained KLM Cityhopper????

    • Like we said, it’s a weird one. CityHopper normally operates under the KL code but according to OAG since last October it has been operating a weekly (Sunday) E190 service on the 43-kilometre route to Rotterdam. It doesn’t appear to be bookable so maybe someone from the airline could explain to us why it’s listed in OAG? Would be interesting to know.

  2. The article suggests that success is based on the number of airlines and routes an airport has? I can see the logic in routes perhaps (although this doesn’t count frequencies as a parameter) but where is the logic in simply counting airlines? Fewer airlines but with more routes per airline may be a more accurate measure? One to ponder.

  3. Andrew Jones says:

    Do you collect data on lost bags and missed connections… I have a good idea who will lead the way on such statistics !

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