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Ryanair and Wizz Air lead European recovery rankings; November seats at 73% of 2019 figure

Latest air traffic movement data from Eurocontrol (to Saturday 13 November) reveals that flights across all airlines (including cargo airlines such as DHL) are at 78% of the level seen in mid-November 2019. This compares with around 72% when The ANKER Report last examined these figures five weeks ago. A look at the graph below which tracks 12 of Europe’s biggest airlines reveals a spike in the recovery around two weeks ago. This can be explained by the timing of the changeover to the winter schedule (W21/22) which took place a few days later this year than in 2019.

Major European airlines in 2021

Ryanair and Wizz Air lead recovery

Europe’s two leading ULCCs have both recently recorded periods when their 2021 flight numbers surpassed those achieved in 2019. Not all (U)LCCs have performed as well. While Vueling is at just over 70%, easyJet is at only just over 60%, Eurowings is at 57% and Norwegian is at around 53%. Volotea’s figure of 140% is down to the carrier recently launching six Italian domestic routes to Sardinia from Rome FCO and Milan LIN.

Turkish Airlines’ recovery falters

Among flag-carriers, Turkish Airlines has seen its rate of recovery dip from close to 90% to just over 80%. This leaves it not far ahead of other major European flag-carriers Iberia (79.2%), KLM (78.7%) and Air France (75.6%). Not recovering as quickly are Lufthansa (65.2%), SAS (61.5%) and British Airways (54.6%). While the resumption of non-essential travel between Europe and the US last week (8 November) is to be welcomed, the resulting increase in flights for these carriers is relatively small in absolute terms, as many of these service were already being operated, primarily for cargo reasons, but also for essential travellers and connecting traffic.

In absolute terms, the leading airline across Europe for flights on Saturday 13 November was Ryanair with 2,184 flights. The Irish carrier operated more than twice as many flights as its nearest rival, Turkish Airlines, which registered 1,049 flights. Lufthansa was third with 930 flights ahead of Air France (753), easyJet (585) and Wizz Air (535).

Among airports, Frankfurt led the way with 985 flights on Saturday 13 November, ahead of Amsterdam (908), Istanbul IST (894), Paris CDG (851), a recovering London LHR (783) and Madrid (751).

European seat capacity down 27% in November

Analysis of Cirium Data and Analytics schedules for November indicates that seat capacity across all European airports is set to be down around 27% compared with November 2019. Analysis by country reveals that three countries are expecting to see an increase in seat capacity compared with two years ago. They are Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania. Wizz Air has been the main driver of growth in both Bosnia & Herzegovina and Albania, while Air Montenegro (launched earlier this year out of the failed carrier Montenegro Airlines) has helped the Montenegro market recover. Among Europe’s biggest air travel markets, Germany and the UK both rank in the bottom 10 for recovery rates. Only Finland, Belarus and the Czech Republic have lower recovery rates than the UK.

European airline capacity 2021