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Odessa International Airport Part 2: Traffic profile, hub connections and airport privatisation

Odessa International Airport (OIA) is business-oriented, with limited exposure to low cost airlines, but it represents a city-region that retains a robust and multi-faceted economy. A modernisation project has been delayed but the first part of it should be completed in 2016, thus giving it the opportunity to compete directly with the much larger airport at the capital, Kiev.

This two part report examines Odessa International Airport by way of several sets of metrics, looks at the airports that are rivals to it, at its construction activities and its convoluted ownership.

Part 1 looked at the region's history and economic background. Part 2 reviews the airline market characteristics and issues around expanding the airport.

Please see also: Odessa International Airport Part 1: Tourism remains important in a still-troubled region

Ukraine International has 44% of Odessa's seat capacity

As might be expected, seat capacity is dominated by Ukraine International Airlines, with 44.2%. Otherwise, Turkish Airlines plays a major role feeding traffic through its Ataturk hub, with the Belarusian airline Belavia holding just over 10% of seat capacity.

The leading western/European airline is Austrian Airlines, which has long served cities such as Odessa through its Schwechat hub, maintaining its ‘west-east connection’.

Odessa International Airport capacity seats, per week, system, all airlines: 04-Jul-2016 to 14-Jul-2016

LCCs are lacking, but the concept is new to the region

What are patently missing from the airline mix are low cost airlines. It is hardly surprising. Russia has very few in the region and the concept of the LCC is yet to catch on in this part of the world – most airlines there fall into the categories of full service, regional or charter.

Indeed, only 5.7% of OIA’s capacity is on LCCs. Most of those seats are accounted for by Turkey’s Onur Air and flydubai of the UAE.

Odessa International Airport capacity, seat share by airline type: 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016

The chart below is of seat capacity distribution by country, and again Turkey is seen to have the largest share by some margin, followed by Belarus and then Israel.  

Odessa International Airport capacity seats by region: 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016

Four or five hubs connect Odessa to the world

A further chart below presents this data regionally as a ‘heat map’, which emphasises the capacity focus on Eastern and Central Europe, which includes Russia (even though there are no flights there). The online chart within the CAPA members' system reveals that there are 15,554 seats in Eastern and Central Europe in the specified period: 2,840 (14%) in the Middle East and 1,812 (9%) in Western Europe.

The lack of capacity to/from any other continent is notable. Kiev and Istanbul, also Dubai, Munich and Vienna play a very important role in connecting Odessa intercontinentally.

Odessa International Airport international capacity seats by region ‘heat map’: 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016

The airport’s current route network is shown here and adds further emphasis to the heat map. The tightness of the direct flight network (red dots) is evident.

Nonstop connectivity is contrasted

The chart below contrasts the peer group airports in terms of nonstop connectivity. It re-emphasises how Odessa has only half the ‘pulling power’ of Chisinau Airport but it does have one additional Middle East service. The only airport within the peer group with intercontinental services other than to/from the Middle East is Kiev Boryspil.

Nonstop connectivity values of Odessa, Kiev Boryspil, Chisinau, Constanţa and Varna departing airports: 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016

Full service airlines account for 74% of seats

Returning to the distribution of seats by passenger type (see chart above), full service airlines account for 73.6% of seats and LCCs only 5.7%. That traffic split is compared here with the airport’s peer-competitors.

Comparison of selected airports by airline type – seat availability: 18-Apr-2016 to 24-Apr-2016

Airport

% of seats on FSCs

% of seats on LCCs

% of seats on other modes (e.g. regional, charter airlines)

Clarification of previous column

Odessa

73.6

5.7

20.7

Regional/Commuter and charter

Chisinau

89.3

9.6

1.2

Charter

Bucharest Otopeni

50.8

49.0

0.1

Charter

Constanţa

24.7

75.3

-

 

Varna

66.2

10.8

23.0

Charter and Regional/Commuter

OIA actually has a greater percentage of FSC seats than does Bucharest Otopeni, and is in the same category as Chisinau. OIA also has an inordinately large percentage of regional and commuter aircraft flights (N.B. Varna’s non-FSC/LCC flights are mainly charter). On the other hand, as reported previously the impact of LCCs at Odessa is low.  

70% of capacity is unaligned 

Despite the high percentage of FSC seat capacity, most of it is not on alliance airlines. The only significant global alliance with a presence at OIA is Star Alliance, with 27% (Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, LOT etc.). SkyTeam has a very limited presence, and oneworld – none at all.

Odessa International Airport capacity seats share by alliance (system): 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016 

Comparison with the peer airports is shown in the table below.

Airport

% of seats on aligned airlines

% of seats on unaligned airlines

Odessa

30.2

69.8

Chisinau

32.0

68.0

Bucharest Otopeni

47.8

52.2

Constanţa

24.7

75.3

Varna

19.2

80.8

In this context, at least a close correlation can be made with Chisinau Airport.

Odessa has the highest business class seating ratio

A comparison is made of the percentage of seats available in different classes (first, business, premium economy and economy) – between the airports and the worldwide average. The chart below is for the same peer group as before.

It is perhaps slightly surprising that OIA has two percentage points greater of seat capacity in business class than does Bucharest Otopeni airport (5.6% vs. 3.6%), and that it is also greater by 1.5 percentage points than the world average. OIA’s premium economy seating ratio is also slightly ahead of that of the Bucharest airport.

Odessa International Airport schedule by class of seat - one way weekly departing (airport comparison by seat type): 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016

Operations – a 24-hour airport that has surprisingly little ‘peak’ activity

There is little commonality between day-to-day operations at OIA. For the purposes of this report Wednesday 05-Jul-2016 has been selected as a typical day.

OIA has 24-hour operations and on this particular day seat capacity (which equates broadly with slots and passengers) is high throughout the night, with most seats being on arriving aircraft. There is little correlation between arriving and departing seat capacity throughout the bulk of the day, and there are operational opportunities available during what – for most airports – are regarded as peak times: 0700-1000 and 1600-1900.  

Odessa International Airport seats per hour, total system, all airlines, all terminals, all origins/destinations, typical day 05-Jul-2016

The chart below shows how seats are distributed by length of flight. OIA again identifies itself as being primarily a short haul airport with 84% of seats being in the category of up to two hours flying time and only 1.5% in the category 4-6 hours.

Odessa International Airport seats by length of flight (system): 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016 

The final chart in this section contrasts flight stage lengths with frequencies. Again it is clear that the majority of frequencies equate to the 1.5-hour flight length, as measured by seat capacity.

Odessa International Airport frequencies (system): 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016

Cargo capacity on the increase, but all in the belly hold

There are no dedicated cargo airlines at OIA, so all freight is carried in passenger aircraft belly hold. The total amount of capacity in the period 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016 is 333,000 kg. Capacity has been rising slowly during the last three years, as in the chart below.

Odessa International Airport cargo payload (kg) capacity year-on-year (system-wide)

Just 10% of the capacity is domestic, the remainder being international.

The largest country markets by payload are again Turkey, followed by Israel and Belarus.

Odessa International Airport total international capacity cargo payload (kg) by country: 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016

As might be expected, Ukraine International has the largest cargo capacity, as it does in the case of passengers; however, Turkish Airlines has a greater presence in this segment.

Odessa International Airport total international capacity cargo payload (kg) by country: 04-Jul-2016 to 10-Jul-2016

Individually, the biggest route by capacity and by some margin is Istanbul, which has almost four times the capacity (154,000 kg) of second placed Tel Aviv.

Terminals, runways and construction

The airport is situated 7 km (4 miles) southwest of the city centre. There is only one terminal building at OIA and it is shared by all airlines.

There is one asphalt concrete runway of 2,800m and a grass strip; the runway was extended in the mid-2000s. In 2012 groundwork began on a new terminal, originally intended to be completed by the end of 2013, then by 2014. However, it has been delayed by a long-running dispute between the regional and city authorities – the Odessa International Airport LLC and the two private part-owners/investors in the terminal facility, Boris Kaufmann and Aleksandr Gramovskiy (Odessa Airport Development).

In Dec-2015 an accord was reached which permitted work to continue on the terminal building and also on a new runway. However, the municipal authorities have previously warned that new investors will be found if the terminal building is not completed. It is now expected to open soon – in Sep-2016 - and to be fully operational by summer 2017. The four-storey terminal was designed by the Spanish firm Ineco and will cover a total surface area of 29,000sqm, increasing the area of the airport by 3.5 times; it will have 5,000sqm of commercial space. The airport is expected to handle three million passengers annually after completion of construction.

In Sep-2015 Ukraine's Odessa State Administration said that neither the JV which manages the airport with Odessa City Council nor the State have the funds to construct the new runway, but that negotiations with various international funds were being held. The Administration is confident that when the terminal and runway are completed OIA will be “larger than Kiev Boryspil airport in its potential”.

The new (unfinished) terminal building

Ownership and privatisation issues prove complex

Odessa International Airport Ltd is a joint venture established in Nov-2011 by Odessa City Council and the private investor Odessa Airport Development, whose task was to finance construction of a new airport terminal and associated infrastructure.

As mentioned above, the JV may be wound up and new investors may be found if the new terminal building is not delivered. On the other hand, while construction of a new runway is within the remit of the federal government using funds supported by state decrees, discussions are believed to have taken place with Odessa Airport Development for that organisation to construct the runway also.

While complex public/private ownership deals and construction PPPs are hardly unknown in Russia, they are rare in the CIS states (of which Ukraine remains an associate). In 2015 the Ukrainian Ministry of Infrastructure considered the appointment of international airport operators for Kiev Boryspil International Airport and Lviv Danylo Halytskyi International Airport, denying that it was a privatisation of the main airports – rather, about long term contracts with professional, international operators.

Summary and Conclusions

  • There has been an economic and financial recovery taking place in Ukraine, but the situation in the east and in Crimea has damaged economic growth.
  • Nevertheless, indicators for GDP growth, inflation and employment are positive.
  • Ukraine’s third largest city benefits from being a warm water seaport and a free economic zone, which has attracted foreign companies and investors.
  • Odessa International Airport (OIA) feeds the Boryspil Airport at Kiev but itself also competes with a variety of other airports in neighbouring countries as a result of visa-free travel arrangements.
  • Apart from Kiev Boryspil, the most significant of these is Bucharest Otopeni. However, by a number of measures OIA matches that airport’s offer, as noted.
  • Otherwise OIA is most comparable with Chisinau, the airport serving the capital city of Moldova.
  • Passenger traffic is rising at a slightly faster rate than capacity.
  • The majority of seat capacity is international and Ukraine International Airlines has 44% of the total. Turkish Airlines also has a major role.
  • There is a lack of low cost airlines, which have less than 6% of capacity. There are no indigenous LCCs, nor are there likely to be, in the short term at least.
  • The corollary is that OIA has a higher percentage of full service airline seats than some of its peers, and notably Bucharest Otopeni airport. Among its peers it also has the greatest capacity as measured by business class seats.
  • That feature does not manifest itself in airline alliance penetration; 70% of capacity is unaligned.
  • OIA is a 24/7 airport with considerable activity during night-time hours, but it is not well coordinated between take-off and landing times. As it is not a hub this is not of great import, but it does mean there are some operational gap hours where there is little activity, even during ‘peak’ periods.
  • Most flights and frequencies fall into a 1 hour to 2.5-hour operational pattern.
  • Cargo capacity is rising. All air freight is carried in passenger aircraft belly hold. The biggest route by capacity is Istanbul.
  • Modernisation of the airport has been delayed by a dispute between the owners but a new terminal should be delivered by the end of 2016, with a second runway to follow later.
  • Ownership is a mix of the city council and a private company, which has invested specifically to build a new terminal on an undisclosed PPP basis. Matters have been up in the air but seem more positive now following settlement of a court case last year. 

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