Air Europa long-haul expansion drives its growth; Madrid still #1 airport and Havana its most important route

Back in June

Back in June Air Europa started daily flights from its Madrid base to Bogota. The 8,026-kilometre sector to the Colombian capital is now the SkyTeam carrier’s fifth largest route when measured by ASKs. Expansion of its long-haul network has seen Air Europa’s average sector length increase by nearly 10% in the last 12 months.

Air Europa is Spain’s fourth largest airline in terms of weekly seats and frequencies (behind Iberia, Ryanair and Vueling), but third largest in terms of Available Seat Kilometres (ASKs), this time outstripping Vueling in this particular metric. This hop into third spot is driven by its role as the #2 long-haul operator in Spain, behind the IAG-owned flag carrier. Air Europa currently operates 17 long-haul (11 A330-200s; three A330-300s; and three 787-8s) and 33 short-haul units (19 737-800s, seven E190s, six ATRs and one ERJ 145), according to ch-aviation’s fleet database.

Despite being still headquartered in Palma de Mallorca, a throw-back to its charter airline roots, its main hub is now in Madrid, with the Balearic island a distant second. Over the last 12 months Air Europa has been busily expanding its main hub in the Spanish capital, adding short-haul spokes in Europe to complement its long-haul growth predominantly to Latin America. Added to its Madrid operations since 1 December last year are services to: Asuncion (Paraguay); Athens (Greece); Zurich (Switzerland); Bogota (Colombia); and Varadero (Cuba).

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 6 December 2016.

While the airline’s top three airports have all witnessed growth in the last 12 months – Madrid (+4.5%), Palma de Mallorca (+6.2%) and Barcelona (+10%) – eight of Air Europa’s biggest operations have had their respective capacities cut – ranging from -7.6% at Malaga to -17% at Paris CDG. The French capital city airport, along with its neighbour across town at Orly (both highlighted in light green) are the only two non-Spanish airports in Air Europa’s top 12 airports. Ibiza has replaced Lisbon in the top 12 over the last year, with the Balearic island’s 3.0% annual growth helping its move up the rankings.

Air Europa average sector length up by 10%

When comparing this week’s flights operated by Air Europa to those which the carrier flew in the same week in 2015, its average sector length has increased by 10%, growing from 2,241 kilometres to 2,459. This trend highlights the growing importance of its long-haul operations to the overall strategy of the airline. Further evidence of this is indicated in the graph below, with 10 of Air Europa’s top 12 routes by weekly one-way ASKs being long-haul services. While all 12 top routes are flown from Madrid, only two are not involving North or Latin American airports, and both of these are domestic sectors (highlighted in light green), namely to Tenerife North and Gran Canaria.

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 6 December.

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 6 December 2016.

As stated earlier, Air Europa and Iberia are locked in a battle for long-haul supremacy at Madrid. Indeed, of the SkyTeam carrier’s top 12 routes by ASKs above, the oneworld airline provides competition on 11 of them – the only exception being Madrid to Cancún. While Air Europa’s #1 route to Havana is only #12 in terms of the same metric for Iberia, and therefore also offers 33% more ASKs than its competitor, it is the Spanish flag carrier that boasts more ASKs across this basket of long-haul routes. For example, its services to Buenos Aires Ezeiza (its #1 route) offers 135% more ASKs than its competitor, New York JFK is 109% bigger, with Miami being 62% larger. That said, Air Europa is slightly larger than Iberia to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic (+2%), as well as Sao Paulo Guarulhos (+5%).

More long-haul growth still to come

Looking ahead to future route launches, as found in’s New Route Database, Air Europa is planning to start a three times weekly service to Guayaquil on 16 December, as well as a four times weekly flights from Madrid to Cordoba in Argentina (via its existing services to Asuncion) on 18 December. In April 2017 it has earmarked a weekly operation to San Pedro Sula in Honduras as its next long-haul route, with four weekly rotations to Boston following in June.

Spanish airport Aena has identified that 2.4 million passengers per year are flying between Asia and Latin America. While Air Europa has a comprehensive and growing Latin American network it doesn't have much going east from its main hub at Madrid.

Spanish airport operator Aena has identified that millions of potential passengers per year are flying between Asia and Latin America via various intermediate hubs. While Air Europa has a comprehensive and growing Latin American network it doesn’t have much going east from its main hub at Madrid.


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