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Industry trends, on the fly

on the fly: Capacity Trends at Lufthansa Group, Air France/KLM, and IAG

August 21, 2023

Analyzing the increased capacity of Europe’s big three airlines

Analytics on the fly


Europe’s Big Three Airlines are enjoying a strong summer, having increased capacity signficantly versus last summer. As a look at data from Cirium Diio makes clear, however, these airlines are still quite a bit smaller than they were before the Covid pandemic. Comparing the July-to-September quarter of 2023 versus the same quarter of 2019, the Lufthansa Group’s scheduled seat capacity is 12% less. Air France/KLM’s capacity is about 2% less. IAG is down by 7%.

Of course, this year’s third quarter hasn’t ended yet, and schedules are subject to change. At this point though, it’s safe to say that Europe’s Big Three have a way to go before reaching their pre-pandemic levels of flying.

The trends vary by market, however. As you can see from the figures shown below, the Lufthansa Group has cut its Munich hub by 20% since 2019, but Frankfurt by only 10% and Vienna by only 9%. Air France/KLM has downsized Amsterdam more than it has Paris. In fact, it’s grown at Paris Orly airport thanks to Transavia’s expansion. Within IAG, Vueling has also grown at Paris Orly. The group has separately grown a lot in major Spanish tourist markets like Palma, Malaga, and Ibiza. Among IAG’s top ten airports, it’s cut the most at London Gatwick.

Stay tuned for potentially big changes to Europe’s Big Three networks. IAG is hoping to secure approval to buy Spain’s Air Europa. Lufthansa is proceeding with a deal to invest in Italy’s ITA. Air France/KLM repeatedly talks about potentially buying TAP Air Portugal. Who knows what other merger deals await!

Note: Our analysis here covers all group airlines. In Lufthansa’s case, that means Lufthansa itself plus Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, and Eurowings. It also includes some of the group’s smaller entities like Edelweiss, Air Dolomiti, and CityLine. Air France/KLM’s figures include its low-cost Transavia units in France and the Netherlands. IAG consists of British Airways, Iberia, Iberia Express, Vueling, Aer Lingus, and Level.

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NEXT ON THE FLY: China’s Diverging Domestic and International Airline Trends

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