British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have increased fares citing an increased demand in premium traffic as the reason in higher fares (Irish Sun, 08-Aug-2010). The British long-haul operators have announced increases in bookings of up to 14% in the past quarter. BA added that it has raised fares across all classes. Amounts were not disclosed.
UK airlines raise fares
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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.
IAG faces challenge to maintain momentum in financial performance
IAG is arguably the most financially focused European airline group in terms of the way it motivates and monitors its own performance. It is no coincidence, then, that its financial performance is now consistently stronger than that of the Lufthansa Group and Air France-KLM (although none are as profitable as the leading LCCs, such as Ryanair). IAG's financial discipline is helping to rehabilitate the airline sector's reputation with professional investors.
In 2016 IAG achieved an operating margin and return on invested capital that were, once more, its best ever. This marked its strong recovery in the years since the global financial crisis (which hit it hard), and consolidated its leadership among Europe's big three legacy airline groups. Only Vueling among the group's constituent airlines suffered from falling returns. IAG shareholders are to be rewarded with a share buyback (IAG's first, and still rare among European airlines) and an increased dividend.
However, by its own standards of success, IAG has more to do. It is not yet meeting its own margin and return on capital targets –partly because it likes to increase them when they come within reach. Its challenge will be to maintain its momentum as the airline cycle's upswing starts to fade.