Spain commenced seeking independent operators of air traffic control towers at 13 airports (Bloomberg, 30-Dec-2010). The process of selecting operators of control towers at airports in cities including Valencia, Seville, La Palma, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Ibiza, Alicante, Sabadell, Jerez, La Coruna, Vigo, Cuatro Vientos and Melilla will take approximately seven months while preparing the new controllers will take another three. Spain will open up control tower operations at other airports from 2012. More privatisations are to follow. The government plans to sell air traffic control services in a total of 47 airports.
Spain to sell air traffic control at 13 airports
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Spain aviation and LCCs: 2016 traffic above pre-crisis levels, but capacity surplus unsustainable
After suffering a protracted recession in 2009 to 2013, Spain's air travel market at last looks set to exceed its pre-crisis passenger numbers in 2016, albeit with something of an airline capacity glut. During the recession traffic was actually remarkably robust, thanks to buoyant inbound tourism and the growth of LCCs.
Europe's third largest aviation market by seats is dominated by short haul, with long haul strongly skewed towards trans-Atlantic routes (North and South) – principally operated by a resurgent Iberia and Air Europa. For long haul connections elsewhere Spain relies on other European hubs, although Iberia has re-entered Asia Pacific with Madrid-Shanghai, and plans a Tokyo service. The superconnectors have yet to make a big impression in Spain, but this may change.
Ryanair has been the largest airline by seats in Spain since 2013, the result of its own growth and also of second ranked Iberia's restructuring. IAG's other Spanish airline – the fast-growing Vueling – has been the country's number three ranked airline since 2010, pushing Air Europa into fourth. Madrid has remained Spain's largest airport, but Barcelona's growth has outpaced Madrid's. Spain's airport operator AENA is benefiting from double-digit growth this year, but airlines are suffering yield declines.
LCC Volotea Part 2: in a competitive space positioned between regional airlines and LCCs
Part 1 of CAPA's analysis of Spanish LCC Volotea highlighted its rapid growth, but noted that its load factor left room for improvement. The Spanish LCC flies almost two thirds of its seats in domestic Italy and France, but operates in a total of 12 countries and 66 airports across Europe. It concentrates on small and medium-sized airports, with Italy and France dominating its list of leading routes.
This second part of CAPA's report on Volotea looks at its generally favourable competitive position on its leading routes (it is the biggest airline on 15 of its top 20 routes). This positive competitive standing has been carried onto the majority of the 32 routes that Volotea has launched in the past year, although its low frequencies and very strong summer bias limit its appeal to business passengers and give it a leisure focus.
Volotea's average trip length sits between those of regional airlines and Europe's principal LCCs. This is evidenced by the fact that two of its most frequent competitors are Hop (Air France's regional airline) and Ryanair (Europe's leading LCC). Volotea's fleet strategy is now to replace its 125-seat Boeing 717s with 150-seat A319s. This will result in it butting up against LCCs more often.