New research from The Blue Swan Daily reveals that half of Europe’s top ten country markets have witnessed a decline in year-on-year flight frequencies across first two months of 2019. Its analysis of OAG schedule data shows that overall flight frequencies from Europe grew 3.6% across the first two months of 2019, versus the same period last year, but the United Kingdom, France, Turkey, Norway and Sweden all reported small declines in flight departures.
These declines, while noteworthy, are not overly alarming and range from -3.0% in Sweden to less than -0.1% in the United Kingdom. The latter’s total accounts for a reduction of just 76 departures across January and February, around 1.3 per day, while Sweden’s larger decline also equates to less than 100 departures.
Among the five countries in the top ten to record year-on-year growth in departure frequencies across the two month period, four delivered rates in excess of 6%, including the Russian Federation, which recorded year-on-year growth of 12.1%. Elsewhere across Europe, Austria (12.6%), Greece (15.9%), Ukraine (15.2%), Belarus (11.2%) and Georgia (21.8%) reported double-digit frequency growth, while Gibraltar, the continent’s smallest aviation market, saw a 29.0% rise in frequencies.
Denmark, Belgium, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Faroe Islands were among the countries to see a reduction in year-on-year flight frequencies, but it was Iceland that has seen the largest reduction in departure frequencies during the period, down -6.3%, mainly a result of WOWair’s contraction.
CHART –Flight frequencies from Europe grew 3.6% across the first two months of 2019, versus the same period in 2018, but there were notable differences in variance across the ContinentSource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG
System departure seat capacity from Europe grew at a much faster rate than frequencies at a rate of 6.0% year-on-year across the first two months of 2019, suggesting a continued trend to the deployment of larger capacity aircraft on schedules. In fact the average aircraft size per departure during the period was 157.2 seats, up from 148.2 seats in the first two months of 2018.
The frequency reductions across numerous country markets were not replicated in capacity terms with Turkey the only nation among the top 25 country markets to see a fall in departure seats across the first two months of 2019, a -1.1% decline versus the same period last year. Iceland witnessed a -3.6% fall in departure capacity, but slipped out of the top 25 markets and replaced by Bulgaria.
As per the frequency growth, the largest risers in capacity terms were Russia (14.4%), Austria (18.5%), Greece (11.5%), Ukraine (19.2%) and outside the top 25 also Georgia (24.4%) and Gibraltar (25.7%). Portugal also recorded a double digit rate of capacity growth (10.6%).
CHART – Departure capacity from Europe grew 6.0% across the first two months of 2019, versus the same period in 2018Source: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG