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LCC Volotea Part 2: in a competitive space positioned between regional airlines and LCCs

26-Sep-2016 7:35 PM

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.

Volotea Part 1: Spanish LCC, growing at ~40% pa - focussed on domestic Italy & France

25-Sep-2016 7:00 PM

Volotea is an unusual creature. It's a Spanish airline, but has almost two thirds of its seat capacity in domestic Italy and domestic France. It's an LCC, but mainly operates 125-seat Boeing 717 aircraft – much smaller than the 737-800 and A320 aircraft more typically flown by European LCCs. Nevertheless, more than four years after its 2012 launch, it is one of the fastest-growing airlines in Europe, with passenger growth of 39% in 2015 and a similar rate expected in 2016.

This first part of a two-part series on Volotea looks at the airline's growth record and load factor development. It analyses the geographic distribution of Volotea's capacity across Europe and examines its network of small and medium-sized airports. It also presents the airline's leading routes, which are dominated by Italy and France.

Part 2  of CAPA's analysis of Volotea will consider the airline's competitive position and its recent route launches. It will also analyse its low-frequency schedule and high seasonality levels, in addition to its fleet strategy.

Palma de Mallorca Airport: new Eurowings base in price-sensitive market; capacity is accelerating

25-Sep-2016 6:10 PM

The announcement by Eurowings that it plans to establish a base with two aircraft at Palma de Mallorca Airport next spring focuses attention on Spain's number three airport by passenger numbers. One of Europe's most important airports for LCC capacity, Palma is also very dependent on the summer schedule. The low point of the winter schedule has 78% fewer seats than the peak summer week.

Traffic at the airport held up relatively well during the second phase of Spain's 'double-dip' recession in 2011 to 2013, but its passenger growth has lagged that of the country as a whole since then. The mix of airlines has been in some flux, with Palma's leading airline airberlin gradually losing share to LCCs and the seat-only sales of charter airlines. Ryanair, number two at the airport, has returned to capacity growth there in 2016 after two years of cuts.

Eurowings' new base at Palma in May-2017 will follow the establishment of bases at the airport by easyJet and Norwegian in 2016. It is certainly a market that seems to attract the interest of Europe's leisure-focused airlines, but strong capacity growth at Palma (and elsewhere in Spain) increases the downward pressure on yields in a price-sensitive market.

LOT Polish Airlines: now restructured, and long haul focus is on 2020 growth. Partnerships critical

20-Sep-2016 9:30 PM

On 8-Sep-2016 LOT Polish Airlines announced its "2020 profitable growth strategy". This involves a goal to achieve "sustainable viability", after a restructuring programme which returned LOT to operating profit in 2014 after six loss-making years. Its privatisation may even be back on the agenda.

LOT currently ranks behind LCCs Ryanair and Wizz Air by share of traffic in Poland, which offers superior traffic growth potential versus Europe as a whole. The airline aims to increase passenger numbers from 4.3 million in 2015 to 10 million in 2020, growing its fleet from 43 to 70 aircraft. LOT's expansion will focus on long haul, particularly North America and Asia, where it currently has only five routes and where competition is considerably lower than on short/medium haul. Initial plans include the launch of Warsaw-Seoul this winter and a return to Warsaw-New York Newark next summer.

According to (limited) data from LOT, its restructuring has left it with a fairly efficient cost base and this will be important in competing with LCCs. LOT's growth will focus on long haul but will need short-haul European feed – and partnerships. Although LOT no longer appears to be considering leaving the Star Alliance, it remains excluded from American and Asian JVs. Further, those JVs preclude members from working with LOT. Partnership growth will be as critical as it will be challenging.

Norwegian Air's North Atlantic seats up 51% this summer, but longer term long haul growth needs NAI

19-Sep-2016 9:00 PM

Norwegian continues to await the long-delayed approval of a US foreign carrier permit for its Irish subsidiary Norwegian Air International (and for its UK subsidiary Norwegian Air UK). US traffic rights for these two subsidiaries would give Norwegian the opportunity to fly both east and west with the same operating airline and with EU traffic rights in both directions. This would increase the operational flexibility and cost efficiency of its long haul operations and allow lower fares on a greater number of routes.

Nevertheless, in the meantime and aided by low fuel prices, Norwegian is getting on with an ambitious trans-Atlantic expansion plan and has now carried three million passengers between Europe and the US since 2013. Its summer 2016 seat capacity has jumped by 51% year on year (based on OAG data for the week of 5-Sep-2016), including nine new routes this summer. It plans two more routes in the coming winter schedule and four US routes from Barcelona in summer 2017.

Well over half of Norwegian's North Atlantic routes are new to the market, which has been significantly stimulated by its entry. This has provided choice and lower fares for passengers, and created new airline jobs. Those still seeking to block approval for NAI and NUK are acting against the interests both of consumers and aviation workers.

Jet2.com steps on Ryanair's toes as it starts its first Southern England base at Stansted

16-Sep-2016 6:40 PM

Jet2.com is to establish London Stansted Airport as its ninth UK base in spring 2017. This will be the first base in the South of England for the Leeds-based airline with proud roots in the North, and will coincide with the launch of its previously announced new base at Birmingham. The LCC, owned by Dart Group PLC, believes that "Stansted has great potential for our holiday business", serving the populations of North and East London and the East of England.

Stansted airport is dominated by Ryanair, Europe's largest and lowest cost LCC, which prices at a 62% discount to Jet2.com. Although Jet2.com competes with Ryanair at all its other bases, nowhere does the Irish airline have the same dominance as at Stansted. Dart Group manages its airline as an integrated division with its package holidays business, which generates 40% of the airline's ticket sales. This gives Jet2.com some protection from pure price-based competition for seats.

Nevertheless, Jet2.com will find Ryanair a formidable competitor at Stansted, especially as Ryanair looks to increase its own sales of integrated leisure products through its website and app through partnerships with travel suppliers.

This content is exclusively for CAPA Membership Subscribers

CAPA Membership gives you the latest aviation news and alerts, access to CAPA articles, reports, and our leading aviation data with optional premium add-ons.

This content is exclusively for CAPA Membership Subscribers

CAPA Membership gives you the latest aviation news and alerts, access to CAPA articles, reports, and our leading aviation data with optional premium add-ons.

This content is exclusively for CAPA Membership Subscribers

CAPA Membership gives you the latest aviation news and alerts, access to CAPA articles, reports, and our leading aviation data with optional premium add-ons.

This content is exclusively for CAPA Membership Subscribers

CAPA Membership gives you the latest aviation news and alerts, access to CAPA articles, reports, and our leading aviation data with optional premium add-ons.

This content is exclusively for CAPA Membership Subscribers

CAPA Membership gives you the latest aviation news and alerts, access to CAPA articles, reports, and our leading aviation data with optional premium add-ons.

This content is exclusively for CAPA Membership Subscribers

CAPA Membership gives you the latest aviation news and alerts, access to CAPA articles, reports, and our leading aviation data with optional premium add-ons.

This content is exclusively for CAPA Membership Subscribers

CAPA Membership gives you the latest aviation news and alerts, access to CAPA articles, reports, and our leading aviation data with optional premium add-ons.