The Air Service One weekly news round-up: Friday 22 March 2024

Air Service One Weekly News Round Up March 22

It was another fairly quiet week for new route launches in Europe and North America. Air Service One identified just 18 new routes across the two regions. These were [date of first flight, weekly frequency]:

  • Advanced Air launched two intra-California routes from Crescent City to Oakland [17/3, daily] and Hawthorne[17/3, 2-weekly] using Dornier 328 Jets. These are EAS (Essential Air Services) operations.
  • Aeromexico now connects Mexico City with Boston [21/3, daily] using its 737 MAX 8s.
  • Azerbaijan Airlines started flying between Baku and London LGW [17/3, 3-weekly].
  • BermudAir began linking Bermuda with Baltimore/Washington [18/3, 3-weekly] with E170-series aircraft.
  • easyJet opened a new UK base in Birmingham on 18 March. In the first four days of operation the LCC launched six new routes to Alicante, Antalya, Barcelona, Enfidha, Larnaca and Tenerife A further seven new routes from Birmingham are set to start in the coming weeks raising the airline’s network to 26 routes for this summer. However, flights to Nantes and Naples which operated last summer have been suspended. Also this week, easyJet launched service to Antalya from Berlin.
  • Eurowings has added a new route from its Düsseldorf base to Tel Aviv in Israel [16/3, 2-weekly].
  • Hainan Airlines began a new European route between Chongqing and Milan MXP [19/3, 2-weekly] using its 787-8s.
  • Pegasus expanded its offering from Istanbul SAW with a new route to Giza in Egypt [15/3, 5-weekly] using a mix of 737-800s and A320s.
  • Volotea launched three new routes; Naples to Athens, Verona to Comiso and Turin to Comiso [all 21/3, 2-weekly] using the airline’s A319s.


Airport traffic statistics for February 2024

This week has seen more airports report their traffic statistics for February. We now have passenger statistics for over 230 airports. Note that being a leap year this year February has 29 days whereas in 2019 and 2023 it only had 28 days, so all other things being equal you would expect demand to be up by around 3.6%. We have complete data for several countries (versus February 2023 / versus February 2019); Bosnia & Herzegovina (-17%, +21%), Bulgaria (+5%, +9%), Ireland (+7%, +10%), Romania (+5%, +8%), Sweden (+3%, -26%), Turkey (+24%, +14%).

We also have the results from some individual airports of note; Amsterdam (+22%, -5%), Brussels BRU (+14%, -5%), Geneva (+14%, +3%), Paris CDG (+7%, -6%), Paris ORY (+0%, +1%), Sofia (+9%, +8%), Tirana (+69%, +228%) and Warsaw WAW (+25%, +20%).

The UK CAA finally published its traffic statistics for January 2024 (+12% versus January 2023, -8% versus January 2019). Among the top 15 airports seven are at least 95% recovered. However, none have reported growth of more than 2% versus 2019 with Leeds Bradford (+1.7%), just beating London LHR (+1.3%) and London STN (+0.9%). Passenger numbers at London LCY, which focuses on business traffic, is still down more than 35%.

Top 15 UK airports in January 2024

We now also have complete January data for the top 15 airports in France which shows that traffic is up just 2% versus January 2023 and down 9% versus January 2019.

Chinese carriers dominate Europe-China capacity recovery

According to Cirium schedules data, in the second quarter of 2024 Europe-China seat capacity will be down just 13% compared with the same period in 2019. In 2023 Q2 capacity was still 56% below pre-pandemic levels. However, while total capacity is down 13% it is worth noting that capacity provided by Chinese carriers is up 20% while European carrier capacity is still down 51%. Chinese airlines are still allowed to fly through Russian airspace while European airlines can not, resulting in significantly longer (and therefore more expensive) flight routings. At this week’s Airlines 4 Europe conference in Brussels it was apparently suggested that Chinese carriers should be banned from landing in Europe unless they too avoided Russian airspace.

Athens International Airport

easyJet in the UK

With the opening of easyJet’s new Birmingham base it is worth looking at the evolution of the airline’s operations at its 10 biggest airports in the UK across the period 2004-2023. Analysis of Cirium data shows how dominant London LGW has become since 2007 when it overtook London LTN as easyJet’s biggest UK airport. The following year it acquired Gatwick based GB Airways which helped it grow significantly at the airport. In 2023 it had three times more capacity than the airline’s second busiest UK airport at Luton.

easyJet top 10 UK airports 2004-2023

In 2023 nine of the top 10 airports are those shown in the graph. However, Newcastle has slipped to 15th with Birmingham (even pre-base) replacing it in the top 10 (in ninth place). Newcastle also lagged behind Jersey, Belfast BHD, Isle of Man and Inverness for easyJet capacity.

easyJet only started serving Manchester in 2008 and it is now competing with Bristol to be easyJet’s busiest UK airport outside of London.

Note also the decline of London STN in easyJet’s UK airport operations. Ranked second in 2004 following the acquisition of Go in 2002 it has now slipped to 10th in 2023, just ahead of Jersey. Clearly competing with Ryanair is tough, with Stansted being the Irish carrier’s leading base, around 40% busier than Dublin.

Notable new route announcements

We have identified the following recent new route announcements involving airports in Europe and North America:

  • airBaltic has revealed plans to start three new routes this winter. From Riga it will serve Madeira, from Vilnius it will serve Oslo TRF, and from Tallinn it will serve Kittilä in Finland.
  • Avelo announced plans for three new routes from its Tweed-New Haven base in Connecticut. From mid-June it will serve Houston HOU (2-weekly), St. Louis (2-weekly) and Traverse City in Michigan (weekly). For more details click here.
  • BRA plans to resume/start service this summer between Visby and both Angelholm and Norrköping. Both routes will operate 2-weekly on Wednesdays and Sundays between 3 July and 11 August using the airline’s 72-seat ATR 72-600s. Visby is located on the island of Gotland which lies off Sweden’s east coast. In 2023, Visby was Sweden’s ninth busiest airport handling almost 320,000 passengers. Pre-Covid the airport was consistently handling between 400,000 and 500,000 passengers per annum.
  • Frontier announced details of some new routes it plans to start in June. These are New York EWR to San Juan (starting 27 June, 11-weekly), New York JFK to San Juan (starting 6 June, 2-daily), Phoenix to Los Cabos in Mexico (starting 16 May, 2-weekly) and San Francisco to Orange County (starting 11 July, 4-weekly). This is the airline’s first route from JFK and first international route from Phoenix. For more information click here.
  • Royal Air Maroc is growing its European network from Casablanca this summer. The airline has announced it will resume service to Naples from 22 June (2-weekly service, previously operated between March 2017 and March 2019 and then again in S21) and also resume flights to Manchester (3-weekly from 23 June, previously operated between March 2017 and March 2020).


IATA Slot Conference 155