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Industry trends, on the fly

on the fly: Germany’s struggling airline market

August 7, 2023

An analysis of the challenges of domestic and international flights in the German airline market

Analytics on the fly

on the fly: Germany’s struggling airline market


When it comes to airline capacity, Germany is anything but a growth market. It’s quite the contrary. Though subject to change as the year goes on, current airline schedules show that seat capacity to and from Germany in 2023 will be 20% below what it was in 2019, based on data from Cirium Diio. Incredibly, domestic German seat capacity will be 48% below where it was four years ago!

Even compared to ten years ago, Germany’s airline market is smaller today, based on total seats scheduled to and from its airports.

Exclude domestic flights and the story is a little better but not much. International seats are up just 6% from a decade earlier, and still down nearly 16% from 2019.

What’s going on here? One reason for the decline is Air Berlin’s disappearance in 2017. A lot of its capacity was never replaced. In addition, higher aviation taxes and fees have encouraged many carriers, including Europe’s leading low-cost carriers, to reduce their Germany flying. Lufthansa is also much smaller today in terms of seat counts than it was before the pandemic.

Missing too from Germany’s market this year are airlines from Russia and Ukraine, as well as Russian and Ukrainian capacity removed by Lufthansa. This is significant. Diio shows that in 2019, Russia was Germany’s 13th largest country market by seats, just behind the Netherlands. Ukraine was number 27.

Germany might also be struggling because it’s historically had a lot of corporate travel, which has been slow to recover from the pandemic.

Airlines in neighboring France, which has more inbound tourism and less exposure to Russia and Ukraine, will this year offer 17% more seats than they did ten years ago, and just 4% fewer than they did in 2019. That’s a big contrast, further highlighting Germany’s severe airline industry contraction. Will things change in 2024?

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NEXT ON THE FLY: Capacity Trends at American, United, and Delta

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