ANALYSIS: October 2017 – European capacity insights for the month ahead

In the continuation of a regular new series, The Blue Swan Daily offers a capacity snapshot in time and looks at the month ahead to highlight some of the key network trends across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

In the case of Europe, overall network capacity is up +7.1% in Oct-2017 versus the same month last year, a higher rate of growth than the last two months and slightly above the average annual rate of +6.8% across the first ten months of 2017. With the onset of the winter schedules at the end of the month, the overall capacity offering is the lowest monthly rate since May-2017 but still with almost 3.85 million scheduled seats per day being offered from airports across Europe.

CHART – Overall network capacity from Europe is up +7.1% in Sep-2017 versus the same month last year maintaining a positive performance trend for the yearSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

In fact 2017 has been a relatively stable year for capacity growth across Europe with monthly rates fluctuating between +6.4% and +7.9%, with the exception of February where the rate of growth fell to just +3.1%. This was due to the leap year in 2016 which added an extra day to the month and if you compare the data per day rather than as the whole month that rate rises to +6.8%, exactly in line with the annual performance.

The growth story in Europe in 2017 has been dominated by the emerging Eastern European region and particularly the rise in low fare operations from these countries. Across the first ten months of the year departure capacity is up +17.5% versus +5.2% in the more mature Western European markets, albeit it is a much smaller base and accounts for just 14.3% of the total capacity.

This trend is appearing to change, however, with growth from Eastern Europe slowing for a third successive month. In fact, when you take  into account the extra day in February in 2016, the last two months and the October forecast deliver the slowest monthly growth rates for the year.

CHART – The still emerging Eastern European market is growing at a fast rate than the more mature Western European regionSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

Among the 33 major European airports that will offer more than one million departure seats in Oct-2017 – a list that from Oct-2016 now also includes Antalya (AYT), Hamburg (HAM), Helsinki (HEL) and Malaga (AGP) – only four will see capacity declines in the current month.  These comprise Istanbul (SAW), down -3.6%; Berlin (TXL), down -3.5%; Copenhagen, down -0/9%; and Rome (FCO), the largest of the four, down -2.1%.

The capacity reduction in the Italian capital, means that London (LGW) moves up from tenth to ninth in the largest European airport by capacity ranking in Oct-2017, while strong growth at both Amsterdam (AMS) +8.7% and Barcelona (BCN) +9.4% sees them strengthen their position’s relative to others in the ‘Top 10’.

CHART – Amsterdam (AMS) and Barcelona (BCN) will be the fastest growing among Europe’s leading  airports by capacity in Oct-2017Source: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG

The economic recovery in Russia is delivering capacity growth (but not necessarily demand growth right now) and Moscow (SVO) is knocking on the door of the ‘Top 10’ with a +14.7% Oct-2017 capacity rise versus last year. Lisbon (LIS) is the fastest growing of all the airports within the one million plus seats category with a +16.1% growth. Milan (MXP), up +12.3%; Helsinki (HEL), up +11.7%; and Malaga (AGP), up +11.5% are the only other airports in this category with expected double-digit capacity rises for the month ahead.

Among the next tier of European airports with between 500,000 and 999,999 departure seats in Oct-2017 strong growth versus Oct-2016 is being seen mainly at Eastern and Central European airports, namely Warsaw (WAW), up 25.5%; St Petersburg (LED), up +25.3% and Bucharest (OTP), up +17.6%. However, Naples (NAP), up +32.3%; Venice (VCE), up +16.3%; Faro (FAO), up +15.2%; Porto (OPO), up +14.7%; and Toulouse (TLS), also up +14.7%; are also seeing strong growth on last year.