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Europe LCC consolidation: 2nd-tier LCCs, legacy groups more likely to combine than Ryanair, easyJet

Reports that easyJet may be considering a bid for Monarch Airlines could herald a much anticipated wave of consolidation in Europe's LCC segment. The CEOs of both Lufthansa Group and Air France-KLM have indicated that they expect consolidation, while IAG has previously been active in this field, by acquiring Vueling in 2013.

This report compares the market structure of Europe's LCC segment with that of North America and considers the prospects for consolidation among European low cost airlines. As with the broader market, Europe's LCC segment is more fragmented than North America's. However, viewed as a market in its own right, it is more concentrated than the broader European market.

The two leading LCCs, Ryanair and easyJet, have almost half of all intra-Europe LCC seats between them (but Southwest has more than 60% of intra-North America LCC seats on its own). Notwithstanding speculation about easyJet and Monarch, whose Europe seat share is only 2%, any meaningful LCC consolidation in Europe seems more likely to involve second-tier LCCs. This may include the LCC subsidiaries of the legacy groups, although none of the big three appear ready to lead the process currently.

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