Leading airlines on long-haul routes to/from Europe revealed; Air France, Emirates and United star

Leading airlines on intercontinental long-haul routes from Europe revealed

Europe is blessed with many non-stop flights to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, North and South America. Most of these are, not surprisingly, long-haul flights (defined here as those over 4,000 kilometres). This analysis of Cirium schedules data focuses on these intercontinental, long-haul routes and how this summer compares with last summer (August 2024 versus August 2023). Given that it is only mid March it is possible, even likely, that there may be schedule changes between now and August.

United #1 for flights, Emirates #1 for seats, Air France #1 for ASKs

So, which is the leading intercontinental long-haul airline from Europe? Well, it depends on which metric you use. If we consider flights for a week in August then it turns out to be United Airlines (686 weekly flights) ahead of British Airways (667), Delta Air Lines (653), Air France (630) and Turkish Airlines (531). However, if we look at weekly one-way seat capacity then Emirates, with its larger average aircraft size, just edges out Air France, with British Airways some way behind in third. Among the top 15 airlines, seven are based in Europe, four in North America, three in the Middle East and just one in Asia.

Top 15 airlines for European long-Haul capacity

If we now consider ASKs, Air France comes out on top, around 10% bigger than British Airways with Turkish Airlines third and Lufthansa fourth.

Who is growing fastest compared with last year?

Changing the perspective to which carriers have grown the most versus last August reveals another winner. Examining weekly frequency shows that Turkish Airlines has added the most weekly flights (69) an increase of 15% versus last August. Qatar Airways comes second with an additional 56 weekly flights, equivalent to a 17% increase.

Top 16 airlines for European long haul growth

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The top 16 airlines feature seven based in Europe, four in Asia, three in North America and two in the Middle East. The later post-pandemic opening of international traffic in Asia means that services were not back to normal last summer and so several carriers (notably the three main Chinese carriers and Cathay Pacific) have been playing catch-up.

Worthy of note is the appearance of JetBlue which has more than doubled its European flights compared with last summer. This summer it will fly 11 routes, up from five last summer. The six new routes, all served daily, are:

  • Boston to Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris CDG
  • New York JFK to Amsterdam, Dublin and Edinburgh

Lost routes looked at in more detail

While new routes are enthusiastically advertised and promoted by the airlines and the airports involved, dropped or discontinued routes tend not to get as much attention. Air Service One has determined and analysed all those European long-haul, intercontinental flights with at least four weekly frequencies in August 2023 which are not operating this summer.

  • Air Canada: CalgaryFrankfurt (7). Discover has increased frequency from 5-weekly to 12-weekly while Condor is starting 2-weekly service. Total capacity is up 14% versus August 2023.
  • Air France: Paris ORY – Cayenne (7). Daily service is being moved to Paris CDG. Air Caraibes maintaining daily service.
  • Air France: Paris CDG – Chennai (4). Leaves British Airways (daily from London LHR) and Lufthansa (5-weekly from Frankfurt) as only carriers operating non-stop between Europe and Chennai.
  • Air Mauritius: Mauritius – London LHR (5). Shifted service to London LGW and increased frequency to daily. British Airways maintaining 3-weekly service. Total capacity is up 23% versus August 2023.
  • Air Premia: Seoul ICN – Frankfurt (4). Asiana Airlines, Korean Air and Lufthansa all maintaining daily service. Total capacity is down 17% versus August 2023.
  • American Airlines: Seattle – London LHR (7). British Airways (2-daily), Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic (both daily) maintaining frequency from last summer. Total capacity down 20% versus August 2023.
  • British Airways: London LGW – Doha (7). Service transferred to London LHR and increased to 2-daily. Qatar Airways maintaining 2-daily to Gatwick and 7-daily to Heathrow. Total capacity up 5% versus August 2023.
  • British Airways: London LHR – San Jose (7). San Jose in California now no longer served non-stop from anywhere in Europe.
  • British Airways: London LHR – Buenos Aires (5). Argentina no longer served non-stop from UK. Six European airports still have non-stop flights to Buenos Aires this summer; Amsterdam, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Madrid, Paris CDG and Rome FCO.
  • Delta Air Lines: Raleigh/Durham – Paris CDG (7). Route transferred to fellow SkyTeam member Air France increasing seats by 36% as Delta 767-400s are replaced by Air France A350-900s.
  • ITA Airways: Milan MXP – New York JFK (7). Delta Air Lines (2-daily), American Airlines and Emirates (both daily) and Neos (3-weekly) maintaining last summer’s frequencies in S24. Total capacity down 13% versus August 2023.
  • KLM: Amsterdam – Kuwait City (6). Kuwait Airways has reduced frequency from 4-weekly to 2-weekly. Total capacity down 87% versus August 2023.
  • Norse Atlantic: London LGW – Washington IAD (6). Washington still served from London LHR by British Airways and United Airlines (both 2-daily) and Virgin Atlantic (daily). Total capacity down 19% versus August 2023.
  • Norse Atlantic: London LGW – Fort Lauderdale (4). Fort Lauderdale no longer served non-stop from anywhere in Europe as Norse Atlantic has also ended its 2-weekly service from Oslo to the Florida airport.
  • Oman Air: Muscat – Zurich (4). Oman Air has reduced frequency on almost all of its European routes for this summer, but Zurich is the only European route the airline has actually dropped.
  • SAS: Stockholm ARN – Chicago (6). SAS’s only remaining US route from Stockholm is a daily service to New York EWR.
  • TAP Air Portugal: Lisbon – Tel Aviv (7). El Al maintaining 6-weekly service on the route. Total capacity down 60% versus August 2023.
  • TAP Air Portugal: Lisbon – Cancun (5). World2fly is increasing frequency from weekly to 2-weekly this summer. Total capacity down 74% versus August 2023.
  • United Airlines: Boston – London LHR (7). British Airways (3-daily), Virgin Atlantic (now 2-daily rather than daily last summer), American Airlines, JetBlue and Delta Air Lines (all daily) still operating. Total capacity up 3% versus August 2023.
  • United Airlines: Washington IAD – Berlin (7). US capital no longer connected non-stop to German capital. Berlin’s only US flights now to New York JFK (Delta daily and Norse 4-weekly) and New York EWR (United daily).
  • Vistara: Mumbai – London LHR (5). British Airways (3-daily), Air India (2-daily) and Virgin Atlantic (daily) remain on route. Total capacity down 12% versus August 2023. Vistara still serving London LHR daily from Delhi.
  • Virgin Atlantic: London LHR – Austin (4). British Airways maintaining daily service. Total capacity down 31% versus August 2023.
  • WestJet: Calgary – London LGW (7). Air Canada and WestJet maintaining daily service between Calgary and London LHR. Total capacity between London and Calgary down 34% versus August 2023.

In addition, there are almost 20 further routes that operated 3-weekly last summer that have been ‘lost’ for this summer and the same number of routes that flew 2-weekly last August that are not available for booking this August.

Among the ‘lost’ 3-weekly routes are Air Canada’s Vancouver to Zurich service, Delta’s Atlanta to Düsseldorf route, Lufthansa’s Munich to Rio de Janeiro route (transferred to Frankfurt), Norse Atlantic’s Gatwick to San Francisco route, and SAS’s New York EWR services from Aalborg and Gothenburg.

Montpellier Airport