Montpellier changes the perception of negative network growth
There cannot be many airports in Europe, or indeed the world, that can boast a 2021 route network that is bigger than the one achieved in 2019. A boast that can be said at Montpellier Airport, ideally located in Southern France, halfway between Provence and Catalonia, a region where clearly business and tourism are booming.
“Our catchment area is one of MPL’s major assets,” explains Pascal Bigot, Route Development Manager at Montpellier Airport. “It’s actually the second largest in the south of France, with over two million people within 60 minutes.” Now served by 12 airlines, the airport offered 36 direct destinations this summer, up 20% versus 2020, but staggeringly, an increase of 24% against 2019’s total. “We have a good mix of legacy airlines and LCCs here, which has allowed us to successfully recover 75% of our S19 passenger volumes – which is a relatively good performance in the current context.”
Domestic records & promising EU recovery
The airport also benefits from diverse market segments – domestic, ethnic and leisure. “We have experienced record volumes of passengers and destinations served in the domestic market during the peak S21 season, as French people have decided to stay in France this year,” suggests Bigot. “MPL is also one of the most important gateways for ethnic flows to Morocco. In addition, we have also demonstrated our capacity to generate significant outbound/inbound volumes, despite the travel restrictions in place in some countries”
”We saw very strong performance on the ‘restored north European routes such as Amsterdam with KLM, Copenhagen with SAS and Norwegian, Stockholm and Berlin with Transavia”.
Leading the capacity charge is Transavia France, which has added six routes to its Montpellier base in S21, with Berlin, Stockholm Arlanda, Santorini, Marrakech, Calvi and Rennes joining its network. Volotea enhanced its presence at MPL this summer with the addition of a domestic city pair to Caen. “For W20/21, new routes to Seville Oujda will be launched by Transavia France. It will also extend its routes to Bastia and Rennes to year-round services,” adds Bigot.
During these difficult times, MPL has maintained its competitiveness. “There has been no airport cost escalation,” says Bigot. “Airport fees [Passenger Service Charge, lighting, landing fees] have been frozen for more than 10 years and that will remain unchanged for 2022 giving airlines a short-medium term cost visibility. We are sending a positive message to our airline partners”
In heading to Milan for World Routes this week, Bigot is clear about Montpellier’s key attractions. “If you are looking for great market potential in the business, leisure and inbound sectors, with no or reduced competition, smooth seasonality and huge success in developing sustainable routes by legacy airlines and LCCs, then MPL is the perfect airport for you!!” concludes Bigot.