Canada-Europe aviation: airlines exit and major operators consolidate
Seat numbers between Canada and Europe are barely growing this summer compared with summer 2018. This follows five years of strong growth between summer 2013 and summer 2018. The exits of WOW air and fifth freedom operator Jet Airways help to explain the pause in growth in a market where seat share has been consolidating.
Canada-Europe is dominated by Canadian airlines, which share 64% of seats between three of them. The merger of the top two, Air Canada and Air Transat, will lead to a 59% seat share in this market. The Star JV dominates the other North Atlantic JVs.
The leading European airline, Lufthansa, has 6% of Canada-Europe seats. LCC seat share is only 5%, the majority of this operated by WestJet, with Norwegian and LEVEL also present. However, this does not include Air Canada Rouge, which has more routes to Europe than WestJet.
- Canada-Europe seat numbers are flat this summer after strong growth in 2013-2018, partly the result of the exit of WOW air and Jet Airways.
- The Canada-Europe market is dominated by Canadian airlines, led by Air Canada and Air Transat. Their merger will have a 59% seat share.
- LCC seat share is 5%, but this does not include Air Canada Rouge, which has more Canada-Europe routes than WestJet.
- Eight Canada-Europe services have been launched this summer.
According to data from OAG Schedules Analyser, the number of seats between Canada and Europe in summer 2019 will be two thirds higher than 10 years previously, with much of this increase taking place since summer 2013.
Although the Dec-2019 signing of the Canada-EU open skies agreement did not lead to an immediate increase in capacity, there was a 56% increase in seats between summer 2013 and summer 2018, which represented a compound average growth rate of 9.4% pa.
According to OAG data, operators based in Canada have 63.7% of Canada-Europe seats this summer. This is divided among three airlines: the market leader Air Canada (41.6% seat share), second ranked Air Transat (17.6%) and seventh placed WestJet (4.4%).
The largest European airline in this market is Lufthansa, with 6.1% of seats, followed by Air France, KLM and British Airways, each with approximately 5%. Icelandair has 2.1%, Condor has 1.5%, and Turkish Airlines and LOT Polish each have 1.4%. No other airline has more than 1% of Canada-Europe seats.
Lufthansa has supplied 5.8% of the incremental seat capacity added since summer 2013. This is more than any other European airline, while Icelandair has been responsible for 4.3% and Air France for 3.1%.
The Star JV dominates the other North Atlantic JVs
This JV within the Star Alliance has a 50.2% seat share this summer. SkyTeam's Air France-KLM and Alitalia jointly have 11.0%, and British Airways is the only oneworld JV member operating, with 4.7% of Canada-Europe seats.
LCC seat share is 5% this summer (but this does not include Air Canada Rouge)
LCC seat share is 5.1% this summer, a drop from 5.9% last summer, according to OAG Schedules Analyser. LCC share is almost all WestJet, with Norwegian and LEVEL France the only other LCCs captured in the OAG data.
Eight new services have been launched between Canada and Europe this summer, of which four are new city pairs and four are new operators on existing city pairs. The new services are mainly by Canadian operators, led by WestJet.
WestJet launched four new summer seasonal services in May-2019: four times weekly Calgary-Paris CDG, three times weekly Calgary-Dublin, three times weekly Halifax-Dublin, and three times weekly Toronto-Barcelona.
At the start of summer 2019 Norwegian launched a seasonal service to Dublin from Toronto John C Munro Hamilton. The four times weekly service is the only trans Atlantic route from Toronto's second airport.
Norwegian's new Toronto-Dublin service competes with no other operators on the same airport pair, but three competitors serve Dublin from Toronto Pearson: Air Canada (daily), Aer Lingus (daily) and Air Transat (five times weekly).
Canada-Europe's seat capacity growth since 2013 has been achieved with the net addition of only one airline (from 22 to 23), six routes (from 89 to 95) and no change in the total number of airports involved (static at 55) between Jul-2013 and Jul-2019, according to OAG data.
This implies a consolidation of capacity share among the airlines operating and, although the number of airlines has hardly changed, the seat share in the hands of the larger operators has increased. The exit of WOW air and Jet Airways and the expected merger of Air Canada and Air Transat illustrate this process well.
The stagnation of total seat capacity in summer 2019 looks like another phase in the consolidation process, rather than a new trend of slow growth.