Greek airports were closed on 11-Mar-2010 as air traffic controllers took part on a public sector strike over the Greek Government’s proposed budget cuts cur its deficit issues (Bloomberg, 11-Mar-2010). Bulgaria’s Sofia Airport announced all services between Bulgaria and Greece were cancelled on 11-Mar-2010 due to a 24-hour strike in Greece by air transport personnel (novinite.com, 11-Mar-2010).
Sofia Airport announces all services between Bulgaria and Greece cancelled
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Aegean Airlines cuts capacity for first time since Olympic Air acquisition; 2016 margin falls
In 2017 the Aegean Airlines Group will make its first cut in seat capacity and fleet numbers since 2012. This follows three years of rapid expansion by the group since its Olympic Air acquisition in 2013. Olympic's all turboprop fleet focuses on the domestic market but also helps to feed Aegean's international network, particularly through its Athens hub. Cuts will focus on the domestic market.
Aegean will also make an important longer term fleet decision in 2017, or early 2018. The majority of its aircraft leases will need to be replaced between 2019 and 2023, and it is weighing the options. Aegean currently operates Airbus narrowbodies, but will consider the Boeing 737MAX in addition to the A320neo family.
Aegean's last capacity cut was in 2012, the end of a four year period of losses when Greece was in a deep multi year recession. Since then it has made healthy profits, but while profitable its operating margin fell in 2016 for the second successive year. Greece has experienced rapid capacity growth from LCCs, led by Ryanair. A decline in Aegean's unit revenue over three years has now prompted a pause for what its Executive Vice Chairman has called "consolidation and readjustment".
Wizz Air: fastest growing top 20 European airline group keeps Ryanair at bay on E/C Europe-W Europe
Wizz Air's 2016 growth was the fastest among all of Europe's top 20 airline groups. Its passenger numbers increased by 19% to almost 23 million in calendar 2016, giving it an average growth rate of 22% pa over the past decade.
Although it is only Europe's 13th largest airline group overall and the number four LCC, Wizz Air is the biggest airline on routes between Eastern/Central Europe and Western Europe. Almost all of its routes are in this core market, and Wizz Air has managed to hold on to its number one spot in the face of strong competition from Ryanair, which is also growing rapidly in this market.
Wizz Air's fleet plan to 2024 is aimed at maintaining double digit growth rates, while also lowering unit costs by adding A321s and A321neos to its A320 equipment. Ten years ago Wizz Air carried only three million passengers, but it will almost certainly break into Europe's top 20 in 2017.