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Aircraft fleets: Western v Eastern/Central Europe. Airbus leads orders

A decade ago, Western Europe's commercial aircraft fleet was more than three times the size of Eastern/Central Europe's. However, robust growth in Eastern/Central Europe (E/C Europe), and near stagnation in Western Europe (W Europe), has reduced this size difference to below 90% today.

Western Europe is still home to the majority of the continent's largest airline groups by fleet size (only two groups from Eastern/Central Europe rank in Europe's overall top 10). In particular, the west has a huge advantage in widebodies. Although it is larger, Western Europe's airline sector is more concentrated, and the fragmentation in Eastern/Central Europe points to considerable scope for consolidation.

Western Europe may be larger by aircraft in service, but Eastern/Central Europe is home to the airline with Europe's highest number of outstanding aircraft orders (Wizz Air). Moreover, orders in the smaller region make up a higher percentage of aircraft in service than in the west, signalling its growth intent.

This analysis of data from the CAPA Fleet Database compares the fleets of Western Europe and Eastern/Central Europe by size, aircraft type, orders, growth rates and leading airline groups.

Summary

  • Western Europe has 86% more aircraft than Eastern/Central Europe, but only 24% more orders. Only two E/C Europe airline groups rank in Europe's top 10.
  • Western Europe is overweight in narrowbodies and widebodies, but underweight in regional aircraft. It has three times Eastern Europe's widebody numbers.
  • Airbus A320neo comfortably leads narrowbody orders in both regions. A350 leads widebody orders, followed closely by the 787. Wizz Air has the most orders.
  • E/C Europe's fleet is growing much faster than W Europe's.

For information on CAPA's extensive Fleet Database and for a demonstration of its features, please contact CAPA's friendly customer relations team

Western Europe has 86% more aircraft in service than Eastern/Central Europe, but only 24% more orders

According to the CAPA Fleet Database, Western Europe has 4,970 commercial aircraft in service at 5-Apr-2018. This is 86% more than in Eastern/Central Europe, where the total is 2,673 aircraft.

However, Western Europe has only 24% more outstanding aircraft orders than Eastern/Central Europe (1,279 versus 1,034).

Eastern/Central Europe has almost two aircraft on order for every five aircraft in service, indicating greater ambition for growth than Western Europe, which has just over one aircraft on order for every four in service (expressed as a percentage of the number of aircraft in service, orders in E/C Europe are 39%, compared with W Europe's 26%).

Fleet summary for Western Europe and Eastern/Central Europe (number of aircraft) at 5-Apr-2018

 

W Europe is overweight in narrowbodies and widebodies, but underweight in regional aircraft

In Western Europe 55% of aircraft are narrowbodies, a little more than the global average of 50%, and 20% are widebodies, also more than the global average of 18%.

Western Europe is less enthusiastic about regional jets, which make up 10% of its fleet compared with 12% globally. The region is not at all keen on turboprops/small commercial turboprops, which account for 14% of its fleet, compared with 20% globally.

Western Europe: aircraft in service, by type, at 5-Apr-2018

 

E/C Europe is overweight in narrowbodies, but underweight in widebodies

Eastern/Central Europe's fleet is also overweight in narrowbodies, which make up 54% of aircraft in the region (versus 50% globally), but underweight on widebodies, which account for just 14% of its aircraft (18% globally).

Western Europe's greater focus on widebodies highlights the importance of Western European airlines and hubs in supplying intercontinental connectivity for the whole of Europe. In absolute numbers, W Europe's 1,000 widebodies outnumber E/C Europe's 373 by nearly three times.

Regional jets make up 12% of Eastern/Central Europe's fleet, the same as the global average, and the 19% of aircraft accounted for by turboprops/small commercial turboprops is close to the global average of 20%.

Eastern/Central Europe: aircraft in service, by type, at 5-Apr-2018

 

Aircraft orders: W Europe overweight in widebodies, underweight in regional aircraft

Western Europe's aircraft orders are 72% narrowbody (compared with 73% globally), 22% widebody (more than the global average of 15%), 5% regional jet (versus 8% globally) and 2% turboprops/small commercial turboprops (versus 4% globally).

These figures for orders indicate a declining level of popularity for regional aircraft types in Western Europe, whether jet or turboprop. Narrowbody order rates are similar to the global average, but higher than their share of aircraft in service. This mainly reflects the lower order rate for regional aircraft.

Western Europe's disproportionately high order rates for widebody aircraft, both compared with global order rates and with aircraft in service in the region, indicates the ambition of its long haul airlines to maintain a leading role in intercontinental markets.

Western Europe: aircraft on order by type at 5-Apr-2018

 

Aircraft orders: E/C Europe overweight in narrowbodies, underweight in widebodies & regional aircraft

For Eastern/Central Europe, 84% of aircraft orders are narrowbody (versus 73% globally), 10% are widebody (versus 15% globally), 3% are for regional jets (versus 8% globally) and 3% are for turboprops/small commercial turboprops (versus 4% globally).

As in Western Europe, regional aircraft types appear to be losing popularity. Widebody orders are also underrepresented in Eastern/Central Europe, while the region is overweight in narrowbody orders.

Eastern/Central Europe: aircraft on order, by type, at 5-Apr-2018

 

Aircraft orders: Airbus A320neo comfortably leads narrowbodies in both regions

Breaking down Europe's narrowbody orders by the main aircraft models, the Airbus A320 family is the most popular by some distance. A total of 1,058 A320 variants are on order, with a fairly even balance between Western Europe (538 orders) and Eastern/Central Europe (520 orders).

This is 73% more than the total of 611 orders for Boeing 737 variants, which are more popular in W Europe (377 orders) than in E/C Europe (234 orders).

For both manufacturers, the latest generation technology is strongly favoured in both regions, although C/E Europe has a few more orders for the previous generation of these aircraft than W Europe has.

A320neo orders in Europe total 1,024, with 529 in W Europe and 495 in C/E Europe, while 737MAX orders total 527, of which 338 are from W Europe and 189 from E/C Europe.

C/E Europe has 25 A320ceo orders, against W Europe's nine, and 45 737NG orders, against W Europe's 39.

One new narrowbody type where E/C Europe leads is the Irkut MC-21, which is due to enter service in 2019. The region has 89 orders for this aircraft, whereas there are no orders for it in W Europe.

Western Europe and Eastern/Central Europe: orders of leading narrowbody aircraft models at 5-Apr-2018

 

A350 leads widebody orders, followed closely by 787

Western Europe's lead in widebody orders is visible across all the principal aircraft models. It also has a greater emphasis on new generation variants.

W Europe has 118 orders for the most popular widebody model in Europe, the Airbus A350, compared with 39 in E/C Europe, and 99 for the second most popular, the Boeing 787, compared with 33 in E/C Europe.

W Europe's 34 Boeing 777 orders are all for the new 777X variants, whereas E/C Europe's nine 777 orders are all for existing variants. Similarly, W Europe's 30 A330 orders are all for the A330neo, while E/C Europe's three A330 orders are for existing variants.

Western Europe and Eastern/Central Europe: orders of leading widebody aircraft models at 5-Apr-2018

 

Five airline groups in W Europe have more than 200 aircraft, led by Lufthansa Group

According to the CAPA Fleet Database, Western Europe has 15 airline groups with fleets of more than 50 aircraft. This compares with just seven airline groups of this size in Eastern/Central Europe.

Indeed, Western Europe has nine airline groups that have more than 100 aircraft, versus only two in Eastern/Central Europe.

W Europe's top five of Lufthansa Group, IAG, Air France-KLM, Ryanair and easyJet all have more than 200 aircraft.

There are eight groups in W Europe with more than 100 narrowbodies and three with more than 100 widebodies (Lufthansa Group, IAG and Air France-KLM, also the leading three by total fleet size).

Ryanair, with the fourth largest overall fleet in W Europe (and in all of Europe) has the largest narrowbody-only fleet, with 430. This is more than the total fleet of E Europe's largest group, Turkish Airlines Group, which has 348 aircraft.

Western Europe: top 15 airline groups by total aircraft in service at 5-Apr-2018

Rank

Airline

Widebody

Narrowbody

Other

Total

1

Deutsche Lufthansa AG

188

378

133

699

2

International Airlines Group (IAG)

190

340

83

613

3

Air France-KLM S.A.

178

238

128

544

4

Ryanair

0

430

0

430

5

EasyJet plc

0

283

0

283

6

Norwegian Group

27

122

0

149

7

TUI Group

28

104

4

136

8

SAS Group

16

108

7

131

9

Alitalia - Compagnia Aerea Italiana S.p.A.

25

71

20

116

10

TAP Portugal Group

22

45

22

89

11

Thomas Cook Group

27

60

0

87

12

Jet2.com

0

80

0

80

13

Finnair Group

19

36

24

79

14

Flybe Group PLC

0

0

77

77

15

Deutsche Post DHL Group

25

34

0

59

Only two E/C Europe airline groups rank in Europe's top 10

Only the top two groups in E/C Europe – Turkish Airlines Group and Aeroflot Group – would rank in the top 10 in W Europe. Both have more than 300 aircraft in total and more than 200 narrowbodies. Only Turkish airlines has more than 100 widebodies.

Wizz Air, number three overall in E Europe with 89 aircraft, has the largest narrowbody-only fleet in the region.

Eastern/Central Europe: top 15 airline groups by total aircraft in service at 5-Apr-2018

Rank

Airline

Widebody

Narrowbody

Other

Total

1

Turkish Airlines Group

101

247

0

348

2

Aeroflot Group

53

225

65

343

3

Wizz Air Group

0

89

0

89

4

UTair Group

4

48

34

86

5

Pegasus Airlines Group

0

73

0

73

6

S7 Airlines

0

48

14

62

7

Aegean Airlines Group

0

47

12

59

8

LOT Polish Airlines S.A.

9

9

31

49

9

Deutsche Lufthansa AG

0

48

0

48

10

Ural Airlines

0

44

0

44

11

Ukraine International Airlines

5

31

5

41

12

Volga-Dnepr Group

35

3

0

38

13

Yamal Airlines

0

12

22

34

14

airBaltic

0

11

20

31

15

Belavia

1

19

8

28

E/C Europe is much more fragmented

Although W Europe is much bigger by total fleet than E/C Europe, the smaller region is much more fragmented.

The top 10 airline groups by fleet size in W Europe have 68% of aircraft in the region, compared with 48% for the top 10 in E/C Europe. For the top five, the figures are 55% and 38% respectively.

This suggests considerable scope for consolidation in E/C Europe, which has a larger number of smaller airlines (there are 195 airline groups in E/C Europe, compared with 138 in W Europe, according to the CAPA Fleet Database).

Western Europe and Eastern/Central Europe: top 10 airline groups by share of fleet at 5-Apr-2018

Norwegian Group leads W Europe by aircraft orders

The list of leading airline groups in W Europe ranked by the total number of aircraft on order has some significant differences from the ranking by aircraft in service.

Norwegian Group leads the region by orders, with 227, but ranks only sixth by fleet in service. IAG leapfrogs over Lufthansa Group to take second place by orders, while Ryanair and easyJet retain fourth and fifth places respectively.

The top five all have more than 100 aircraft on order, and there are three more groups with at least 50.

Air France-KLM, which is third by fleet in service, is only eighth by aircraft on order, and SAS falls from eighth to 12th. Air Europa, Nordic LCC Primera Air, Germania, Virgin Atlantic, Icelandair and the Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly are all ranked in the top 15 by orders, but are not in the top 15 by aircraft in service.

Of these, Primera Air, Germania and Hi Fly stand out with significant order numbers equal to, or greater than, their existing fleet in service.

Western Europe: top 15 airline groups by total aircraft on order at 5-Apr-2018

Rank

Airline

Widebody

Narrowbody

Other

Total

1

Norwegian Group

35

192

0

227

2

International Airlines Group (IAG)

59

110

8

177

3

Deutsche Lufthansa AG

51

106

13

170

4

Ryanair

0

139

0

139

5

EasyJet plc

0

134

0

134

6

TUI Group

3

69

0

72

7

TAP Portugal Group

16

40

0

56

8

Air France-KLM S.A.

50

1

1

52

9

Air Europa Lineas Aereas

14

23

0

37

10

Primera Air

0

30

0

30

11

Germania

0

25

0

25

12

SAS Group

8

13

0

21

13

Virgin Atlantic Airways

19

0

0

19

14

Icelandair Group

0

15

0

15

15

Hi Fly

10

0

0

10

Wizz Air has the most orders in E/C Europe and Europe overall

Wizz Air has the highest number of orders in E/C Europe and also in all of Europe, with 276 outstanding (all narrowbodies). The only other group with more than 100 orders is Turkish Airlines, with 255.

There are three more groups with more than 50 orders (Aeroflot, Pegasus and UTair), but E/Europe's orders are very much driven by the top two, Wizz Air and Aeroflot, which together account for 53% of all orders in the region.

Turkish has the highest number of widebody orders, one of only two groups (along with Aeroflot Group) with a double digit number of widebodies on order.

Most of the list of leading airline groups in E/Europe ranked by orders is similar to the ranking by fleet in service. However, Red Wings, Air Serbia and Globus stand out, with high order numbers by comparison with their existing fleet.

Eastern/Central Europe: top 10 airline groups by total aircraft on order at 5-Apr-2018

Rank

Airline

Widebody

Narrowbody

Other

Total

1

Wizz Air Group

0

276

0

276

2

Turkish Airlines Group

53

202

0

255

3

Aeroflot Group

20

71

8

99

4

Pegasus Airlines Group

0

86

0

86

5

UTair Group

0

50

0

50

6

SunExpress

0

35

0

35

7

Aegean Airlines Group

0

30

0

30

8

S7 Airlines

0

19

0

19

9

Volga-Dnepr Group

16

0

0

16

10

Red Wings

0

16

0

16

11

airBaltic

0

0

12

12

12

Air Serbia

0

10

0

10

13

Silk Way Airlines

0

10

0

10

14

IrAero

0

10

0

10

15

Globus

0

9

0

9

E/C Europe's fleet is growing much faster than W Europe's

E/C Europe remains smaller than W Europe by total fleet but as noted, its ambition is reflected in a higher ratio of orders as a percentage of fleet in service.

Moreover, the E/C Europe fleet has been growing much more rapidly.

Western Europe and Eastern/Central Europe: year-end fleet (total number of commercial aircraft), 2007 to 2017

In the decade from the end of 2007 to the end of 2017 the E/C Europe fleet grew by 80.7% (an average of 6.1% pa), whereas the W Europe fleet barely changed, growing by just 3.8% (an average of 0.4% pa).

If the average annual growth rates of the past decade were to continue, the E/C Europe fleet would grow to be larger than that of W Europe by the end of 2028.

This may be an unlikely scenario, and it needs to be remembered that E/C Europe's orders are highly reliant on two airline groups, but it is a reminder of how the balance of power can change in the aviation sector.

For information on CAPA's extensive Fleet Database and for a demonstration of its features, please contact CAPA's friendly customer relations team

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