Frankfurt Airport should just make 60m passengers this year; Lufthansa still #1 but falling
Frankfurt Airport is Germany’s busiest airport, handling over 20 million more passengers in 2015 than the #2 airport of Munich, and being nearly three times the size of the third largest airport, Düsseldorf. Dominated by Lufthansa, which commands 65% of weekly seats, Frankfurt is presently served by around 80 airlines, which between them offer services to 231 destinations spread across over 90 countries, according to OAG schedule data for the week commencing 12 December.
Frankfurt is currently the world’s 12th busiest airport (2015 figures) and the fourth busiest in Europe behind London Heathrow, Paris CDG and Istanbul Atatürk. Having lost its third position in Europe last year when it was overtaken by Atatürk, this year the German airport may well be passed by Amsterdam, which with an average monthly growth of 9.4% so far in 2016 (January to September), is growing faster than Frankfurt, which has only managed a negative average monthly growth this year of -0.8%. The only respite for Germany’s busiest airport is that traffic is falling faster at its Turkish competitor, which may see the fellow global hub drop from third to fifth, with Frankfurt staying in fourth. As a result of this present growth trend, our data elves are predicting that the German airport will just about manage to pass the 60 million passenger mark again this year.
Lufthansa #1 airline, but not growing
In the last 12 months Frankfurt has lost three serving carriers from its ranks, with Onur Air, SriLankan Airlines and Yemenia Yemen Airlines no longer operating flights, having done so a year ago. One new carrier has joined the German hub’s already impressive tail fin collection over the same period – that being WOW air – which launched services from Reykjavik/Keflavik back in June 2016. Over the previous 12 months, home-based Star Alliance founding member Lufthansa has trimmed its capacity by 3.7% year-on-year, a net reduction of nearly 20,000 weekly seats. A year ago the top 12 airlines were responsible for 81% of weekly seats, a figure that has barely moved (-0.3%) since last December.
Over the last 12 months, Austrian Airlines’ growth has outstripped all of the airport’s other top 12 airlines, with a substantial 109% annual increase in weekly seats. However, its capacity climb also explains nearly half of Lufthansa’s reduction, as the Austria national carrier has assumed responsibility for the three regional Austrian markets of Innsbruck, Salzburg and Graz from Lufthansa. This has resulted in the carrier operating 28, 28 and 26 weekly flights to the three destinations respectively. The biggest fall inside the top 12 airlines was meted out to SAS, which has endured a 17% drop in its weekly seats at Frankfurt; that said, last year’s 10th biggest carrier, Turkish Airlines, has dropped to 13th this year (and been replaced in the top 12 by Thai Airways) as a result of its 23% capacity cull.
Most of top 12 routes see capacity cuts
Turning our analysis onto the airport’s biggest routes, seven of this year’s top 12 have faced a reduction in the amount of weekly seats available since last December. While none of these cuts are in double digits, Vienna’s drop of 9.8% is not far off, and the worst of the bad bunch. Of the three domestic routes inside Frankfurt’s highest capacity city pairs, only services to Berlin Tegel have seen an increase (+4.8%), while weekly seats to Hamburg (-6.2%) and Munich (-2.1%) are both down. The total number of weekly seats across all 230 routes is down marginally (-1.6%) from 714,000 to 703,000, a figure which endorses this year’s passenger traffic results so far.
The fastest growing route at Frankfurt and also the only one outside of Europe (highlighted in light green) is Dubai, which delivered the only double-digit rise over the past 12 months (+10%). The only other airports not previously mentioned as growing are Zurich (+3.2%), Amsterdam (+2.0%) and Stockholm Arlanda (+1.2%), albeit at marginal levels. Falling out of the top 12 due to double-digit cuts are Barcelona (-10%; falling from 12th to 13th) and Atatürk again (-30%; dropping from 9th to 19th).
Fast-growing Canada leads the way
Over the last 12 months, the number of country markets being served from Frankfurt has gone unchanged, with 94 still offered, however there has been some churn. Panama, Guadeloupe, Saint Lucia and Cape Verde have been recent additions, whereas services to Malaysia, SriLanka, Venzuela and Trinidad and Tobago have been casualties. The country market with the biggest annual improvement in capacity has been Canada, at the same time becoming a newcomer to the top 12, jumping from 15th to 12th (with Turkey being the fall guy again), following a 12% increase in weekly seats. The UAE was in second, having managed a 7% annual rise in capacity.
Overall eight of the top 12 country markets have produced a reduction in capacity at Frankfurt. The home market, which generates around 100,000 weekly seats at the airport, has witnessed a marginal decline (-1.0%) over the preceding 12 months, however it is far from being the worst offender. This unwanted title is in the hands of Poland, which encountered a 14% decrease in weekly capacity and resulted in it falling from 10th to 11th spot.
Ryanair’s coming to town…not Santa…
Looking ahead to any potential routes launches, Lufthansa is adding weekly service to Ivalo in Finland later this month (17 December), as well as domestic service to Paderborn in March and another Spanish destination – Santiago de Compostela. Later in S17 it will also add routes to Bordeaux, Heringsdorf and Shannon. The headlines will no doubt be grabbed in the same month when ULCC Ryanair lands in Frankfurt, its 85th base, launching services to Alicante, Faro, Malaga and Palma de Mallorca. Condor will also strengthen its short and long-haul portfolios from its biggest base, with new operations to Porto Santo (Portugal), San Diego (US), Comiso (Italy) New Orleans (US), Samos (Greece) and Pittsburgh (US). Having last served the city pair in 1998, Air Canada is resuming operations between Vancouver and Frankfurt, with Ellinair adding a Thessaloniki route in June too.