Spain’s Elche courts have ruled that restrictions against boarding passengers on foot at Alicante El Altet Airport must remain in place (Typically Spanish, 02-Aug-2011). Alicante said Ryanair may be able to board and disembark aircraft from the tarmac in the slower winter months, but the LCC would have to use aerobridges in summer. Ryanair argued that boarding procedures that are safe in winter are equally safe in summer and that AENA’s “test walk” carried out to assess the safety of boarding on foot was flawed. The court stated that the characteristics of the new terminal make it advisable, for safety reasons, to board the aircraft via the aerobridges.
Ryanair’s Alicante bid again turned down
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Spain aviation and LCCs: 2016 traffic above pre-crisis levels, but capacity surplus unsustainable
After suffering a protracted recession in 2009 to 2013, Spain's air travel market at last looks set to exceed its pre-crisis passenger numbers in 2016, albeit with something of an airline capacity glut. During the recession traffic was actually remarkably robust, thanks to buoyant inbound tourism and the growth of LCCs.
Europe's third largest aviation market by seats is dominated by short haul, with long haul strongly skewed towards trans-Atlantic routes (North and South) – principally operated by a resurgent Iberia and Air Europa. For long haul connections elsewhere Spain relies on other European hubs, although Iberia has re-entered Asia Pacific with Madrid-Shanghai, and plans a Tokyo service. The superconnectors have yet to make a big impression in Spain, but this may change.
Ryanair has been the largest airline by seats in Spain since 2013, the result of its own growth and also of second ranked Iberia's restructuring. IAG's other Spanish airline – the fast-growing Vueling – has been the country's number three ranked airline since 2010, pushing Air Europa into fourth. Madrid has remained Spain's largest airport, but Barcelona's growth has outpaced Madrid's. Spain's airport operator AENA is benefiting from double-digit growth this year, but airlines are suffering yield declines.
Ryanair's 117million pax in 2016 tops European airline groups. The first time an LCC topped rankings
For the first time ever in Europe, in 2016 a low cost airline carried more passengers than any other airline or airline group, as Ryanair's 117 million passengers pushed Lufthansa Group's 110 million into second place. Ryanair had beaten Lufthansa itself, but not the whole Lufthansa Group. IAG's first full year of including Aer Lingus helped it to take third place from Air France-KLM. Europe's number two LCC, easyJet, was ranked fifth.
The big five can be expanded into a big seven to include Turkish Airlines and the Aeroflot Group, although these two had contrasting growth rates in 2016. A chasing pack of middle sized airline groups includes three LCCs (Norwegian, Pegasus and Wizz Air) and three legacy airlines with varying challenges to establishing sustainable profitability (SAS, Air Berlin Group and Alitalia).
Most of the faster growing airline groups in the top 20 are LCCs and the main growth drivers for Europe's big three legacy groups are their LCC subsidiaries. Just outside the top 20 are some fast growing legacy airlines in Eastern Europe, demonstrating the potential there. Nevertheless, unless there is a big merger or acquisition, Ryanair looks set to remain at number one for some time.