Lyon-Helsinki is “Skyscanner Unserved Route of the Week” with 31,000 searches ‒ will Norwegian or HOP! jump on it?

Lyon-Helsinki is Skyscanner “Unserved Route of the Week”

Lyon’s brand spanking new €600 million Parc Olympique Lyonnais 60,000-seat stadium, built in time for the Euros, strikes a contrast with how Helsinki’s nature-loving citizens find so many fun things to do with snow for free. David Thompson, Head of Route Development Aéroports de Lyon, says would-be carriers should look closely: “Business travel represents 40% of demand on this city pair.”

With 31,000 searches last year, a potential new route from Lyon to Helsinki is this week’s “Skyscanner for Unserved Route of Week” based on aspirational data captured from the flight comparison site used by +50 million unique visitors per month. “Helsinki is one of the great unserved opportunities from Lyon towards Northern Europe,” says David Thompson, Head of Route Development, Aéroports de Lyon. “easyJet started Copenhagen in April, and begins Stockholm Arlanda in November, so it would be would be great if Helsinki-Lyon could become the third Nordic route opened in 2016.”

Chart:Unserved Route of the Week: Lyon-Helsinki Skyscanner monthly searches

Source: Skyscanner for Business.

Will Norwegian or HOP! jump on this unserved route?

With marginally more traffic originating from the French end of this route ‒ a 53/47 split – this city pair looks like an obvious option for Air France regional subsidiary HOP!, which is the #1 airline (23% share) at Lyon in terms of weekly seats, and currently operates to 25 destinations from the airport, according to OAG schedules data for the week commencing 4 July. At Lyon HOP! presently offers services on just eight international city pairs ‒ to Prague, Bologna, Brussels, Venice Marco Polo, Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Luxembourg and Florence. Obviously most of HOP!’s flying at Lyon is under the AF code of its parent, which is the #4 carrier at the airport, operating flights to Paris CDG and Orly only. The second largest carrier (20% share) at the airport, easyJet, is very unlikely to begin operations to Helsinki which it surprisingly does not serve from any of its bases! The same can be said for Lyon’s third largest serving carrier, Transavia. However, Thompson thinks that would-be carriers should look closely at all opportunities like this from Lyon: “Business travel always has an important share of the traffic from Lyon, and represents 40% of demand on this city pair.”

Considering the Finnish end of the route, Helsinki’s largest airline (68% share) is oneworld carrier Finnair, which flies to just three French destinations this summer – Paris CDG, Nice and Biarritz. So, while another French route is not beyond comprehension, Finnair would be also able to leverage significant connections at its biggest hub, particularly to Asia, as well as the point-to-point traffic. Helsinki’s #2 airline (12%), Norwegian, is also a possible candidate for this route, as it is already serves Nice and Paris Orly from Helsinki and French destinations from seven other Nordic airports – Oslo Gardermoen, Copenhagen, Stockholm Arlanda, Bergen, Stavanger, Trondheim and Gothenburg.

Frankfurt, Munich lead transfer competition

When looking at the previous year of search data, the busiest month for potential traffic flows (for both directions on the route combined) is October 2015 with over 4,000, over 2,500 higher than the lowest monthly figure, which was recorded in May 2015 (1,500). The seasonality profile of this search data is less extreme than last week’s Unserved Route of the Week (Billund to Madrid), with the low-month traffic representing 37% of the highest month. According to OAG Traffic Analyser, because there is no direct service, the top three connecting options chosen by those passengers who did book travel between Lyon to Helsinki in the last 12 months were Frankfurt (38%), Munich (24%) and Amsterdam (20%). Interestingly, the Paris airport did not make the top three, although Amsterdam is an Air France-KLM hub; overall 17 different airports were used by passengers wanting to fly between the two cities.

An O&D that is not served by a non-stop flight will typically display a low purchase rate and low traffic. In this instance Skyscanner’s Travel Insight indicates a monthly average of just 6.3% for the Lyon to Helsinki route (see graph below). Therefore, if there was a Lyon to Helsinki route, and if bookings performed in line with the “Skyscanner market average” for direct services at both airports (8.4%), the airline operating this route could immediately expect an improved purchase rate of 34% without any increased marketing spend. However, with nearly 31,000 annual searches, the potential city pair should already be very sustainable.

Chart:Unserved route of the week: Lyon-Helsinki Skyscanner conversion rates Apr 2015-Mar 2016

Source: Skyscanner for Business.

About this analysis and Skyscanner for Business data

“Unserved Route of the Week” is a cooperation between and the B2B branch of the consumer flight comparison site and is a new kind of analysis harnessing an entirely new resource: the amazing power of the aspirational data captured from flight comparison site which has +50 million unique visitors per month.

Skyscanner for Business” packages this amazing B2C data into a suite of business products which offer comprehensive data solutions – our specific need to identify unserved routes uses the Skyscanner Travel Insight product, a comprehensive, unique ‘big data’ set that can accurately predict future demand by telling you where 50 million real living-and-breathing travellers actually want to fly to. (And bear in mind that there are other significant search volumes that could also be added to the Skyscanner totals – from dedicated airline websites, competitive search engines etc, underlining the value of Skyscanner data as a conservative indicator of market route demand.)

Check next week’s newsletter for another great for Business “Unserved Route of the Week” – or browse in’s Route Shop where there are 3,100 more unserved routes.


  1. Petteri says:

    You might also add Geneva as another existing Finnair French destination, as the airport sits on the border of Switzerland and France with access from both countries. By the way, Helsinki-Lyon was already in Finnair’s published schedule some years ago but it was scuppered before the flights ever began. Maybe good time to reconsider it? An obvious operator would be Finnair’s Embraer E190 subsidiary Norra, which also flies the Geneva route, among others.

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