Europe's airline margin ranking 2017: Ryanair and Wizz Air stay ahead

Premium Analysis

A hierarchy has formed among listed European airline groups and their subsidiaries, measured by their operating margins. The ranking for 2017 (or nearest financial year) is headed by Ryanair, consistently Europe's highest margin airline company, with Wizz Air leading the chasing pack. These two LCCs, which both have a March year end, reported their annual results in the fourth week of May-2018, allowing the ranking to be compiled.

However, LCCs are not having it all their own way. Norwegian is at the bottom of the pile with a negative margin. EasyJet, for some years second only to Ryanair, has now slipped out of the top 10, and Jet2.com's margin also looks like sliding (it has still to report).

After Ryanair and Wizz Air come two full service subsidiaries of IAG: Aer Lingus and British Airways. In addition, IAG's Vueling has the highest margin among LCC subsidiaries of the big groups. They keep IAG ahead of Lufthansa and Air France-KLM in the list of Europe's big legacy groups. Aegean leads the independent FSCs.

The ranking also demonstrates that Europe has only a relatively small number of high-performing airline groups and subsidiaries with margins at world class levels.

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