Europe’s Low-Cost Champions — What are their top markets?
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With Norwegian now a shadow of its former self, Ryanair, easyJet and Wizz Air are entering the post-pandemic world as Europe’s dominant independent low-cost carriers. One thing that hasn’t changed is their dependence on London, Europe’s largest airline market. But, London has suffered disproportionately during the COVID-19 crisis, forcing dramatic downsizing. All three airlines are much smaller in London this quarter than they were in the same quarter three years ago. What else stands out from this analysis of Cirium’s flight schedule data:
- Note how Ryanair and Wizz Air are basically back to the same size today as they were pre-crisis. A big reason for that? Their reallocation of capacity from London and elsewhere to Italy, now the largest country market for both carriers. Opportunities are ripe with Alitalia gone.
- easyJet is waiting until next quarter (April-to-June) before restoring its capacity to pre-crisis levels. It’s not shown here, but in Q2, easyJet’s seat counts will be a bit higher versus two years ago in some major markets, even the U.K. It will be up in Italy a bit too. easyJet will undertake its most aggressive expansion in Portugal and Greece, two markets with heavy leisure demand. In Germany, by contrast, easyJet will remain much smaller than it was before COVID-19.
- Finally, a word about Ukraine and Russia: as you can see, Ukraine is a rather important market for Wizz Air, with Kyiv expected to be one of its top growth markets this year. Events will now force it to reallocate planes to other markets. Wizz Air does have some exposure to the Russian market as well. It began the year flying to Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan from the U.K., Hungary and Bulgaria. In years past, easyJet dabbled in the Moscow market. Ryanair never did but at times expressed interest. Russia, importantly, does not have an open skies aviation agreement with the European Union or Britain. The bilaterals are in fact rather restrictive. Ukraine, by contrast, agreed to join the E.U.’s common aviation area last fall.
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