Italy remains the largest affected European country during the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 virus. Many airlines have announced cancellations or reduced frequencies throughout Italy. The largest airline in the market, Ryanair, is suspending all of its flights to and from Italy between March 13 and April 8, according to a statement the ultra-low-cost carrier issued to investors.

We analyzed the ch-aviation capacities module to understand what airlines are most exposed with Italy operations and which are the largest destination markets from Italy.

Based on ch-aviation capacities scheduled for the current week (March 9 to 15, 2020) we see 35.5% of capacity scheduled from Italian airports are for domestic flights.

The market leader by seats scheduled in Italy is Ryanair with more than 0.5 million seats scheduled to depart this week. The Irish airline takes almost one-third of the market capacity with flights from Italian airports. Ryanair is the second-largest carrier at Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa, Italy’s two biggest airports, and it is the dominant airline at the country’s third-largest facility, controlling 88% of weekly seats at Milan Bergamo.

Airline Number of seats Share of seats, %
Ryanair 509.544 32,65%
Alitalia 277.018 17,75%
easyJet Europe 183.788 11,78%
Wizz Air 55.771 3,57%
Vueling Airlines 48.052 3,08%
easyJet 36.749 2,35%
British Airways 32.569 2,09%
Volotea 25.950 1,66%
Air France 25.538 1,64%
Lufthansa 25.108 1,61%

Four countries had more than 100,000 seats scheduled from Italian airports per week.

The leading destination markets are United Kingdom, followed by Spain, Germany and France.

Country Number of seats Share of seats, %
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the) 153.074 15,22%
Spain 142.578 14,18%
Germany 108.322 10,77%
France 102.890 10,23%
Netherlands (the) 46.268 4,60%
Romania 35.232 3,50%
Russian Federation (the) 28.912 2,88%
Belgium 28.766 2,86%
Poland 26.328 2,62%
Portugal 24.176 2,40%

The two largest international airports with the highest capacity of flights to Italy are actually in Spain – Madrid Barajas and Barcelona El Prat.

Airport Number of seats Share of seats, %
Madrid Barajas (MAD) 50.663 5,04%
Barcelona El Prat (BCN) 44.991 4,47%
London Gatwick (LGW) 44.428 4,42%
Paris CDG (CDG) 43.178 4,29%
Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) 40.111 3,99%
London Stansted (STN) 38.667 3,85%
London Heathrow (LHR) 25.293 2,52%
Munich (MUC) 24.096 2,40%
Paris Orly (ORY) 23.669 2,35%
Frankfurt Int’l (FRA) 22.760 2,26%

Data from the the ch-aviation capacities module

The United States will suspend entry for travellers coming from the Schengen Area, covering 26 European countries, effective on midnight, March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump announced in an Oval Office address.

“We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground,” Trump said.

According to a follow-up statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the presidential proclamation covers all foreign nationals who have been to any of the Schengen Area countries “at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States.”

The Schengen Zone includes all European Union members except for the United Kingdom, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, which are not EU members.

Read the full story in our news feed.

We have looked at the countries and airlines which will be most affected by the new limitations based on the ch-aviation capacities data as of this week (starting March 9, 2020).

There are 8 countries in the Schengen Zone which do not have any scheduled flights to the US this week. The list includes Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia.

In total, there are 432 566 seats scheduled from March 9 to 15. 27% of these seats are scheduled from Germany.

Country Number of seats
Germany 119 231
France 83 621
Netherlands (the) 60 394
Spain 43 319
Switzerland 26 232
Italy 21 710
Portugal 16 714
Iceland 11 653
Belgium 11 435
Denmnark 10 005

The largest alliance affected by the grounding is Star Alliance with 193 454 seats scheduled between the Schengen Zone and the US currently. SkyTeam has 138 206 seats scheduled and oneworld has a relatively low impact with 49 806 seats scheduled (mainly because the largest European oneworld carrier British Airways is based in UK).

Airline Number of seats
Lufthansa 69 163
Delta Air Lines 67 781
United Airlines 57 265
Air France 38 279
American Airlines 30 199
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 22 478
Norwegian 19 810
Swiss 18 390
SAS Scandinavian Airlines 16 599
Iberia 15 852
TAP Air Portugal 13 078
Icelandair 11 653
LOT Polish Airlines 7 632
Alitalia 7 004
Emirates 5 901

Data from the the ch-aviation capacities module


We are following 4,145 aircraft operated by 87 carriers in China in our ch-aviation fleets advanced database. In a picture of the coronavirus spread, our aircraft data team updates information every day about the grounded aircraft due to reduced operations by Chinese airlines.

We also follow 87 of Boeing 737MAX aircraft grounded in airports in China since March 2019.

As of February 12, 2020, we see 1215 aircraft operated by airlines from China, Hong Kong and Macao grounded (including passenger aircraft and cargo aircraft).

The following airlines have the most of their fleet grounded in China:

Operator Aircraft on Ground Total Aircraft % of Grounded
China Eastern Airlines 191 556 33,7%
China Southern Airlines 173 530 32,6%
Air China 119 428 27,8%
Hainan Airlines 100 227 44,1%
Sichuan Airlines 65 159 40,9%
Shenzhen Airlines 51 187 27,3%
Xiamen Airlines 50 167 29,9%
Tianjin Airlines 47 95 49,5%
Shanghai Airlines 35 105 33,3%
Capital Airlines 33 83 39,8%

The following airlines are exposed the most with these groundings, as these airlines have the largest share of their fleet grounded (all 50%+):

China Xinhua Airlines 2 2 100%
Henan Airlines 20 30 66,7%
China Grand Air 2 3 66,7%
Okay Airways 17 26 65,4%
GX Airlines 14 27 51,9%

The airports with the most of these aircraft parked are the following:

Beijing Capital 103
Guangzhou Baiyun International 79
Hangzhou Xiaoshan International 60
Xi’an Xianyang International 59
Urumqi Diwopu International 58
Chengdu Shuangliu International 54

We also see these are the types of the aircraft mostly affected by the groundings by Chinese airlines:

Aircraft Type Aircraft on Ground Total Aircraft % of Grounded
B737-800 325 1194 27,11%
A320-200 180 848 21,23%
A321-200 114 361 31,58%
A320-200N 70 196 35,71%
A330-300 62 199 31,16%
A319-100 47 173 27,17%

Following up the news on the British regional carrier flybe facing a cash shortage and urgently seeking extra cash to avoid collapse, we took a look at what possibilites and outcomes face the industry, namely, airports.

Short reminder: The airline already faced a collapse in late 2018 when it was saved at the last minute by a takeover bid submitted by Connect Airways, a consortium of Virgin AtlanticStobart Group, and Cyrus Capital. However, seems like problems occurred this year as well.

Flybe represents the 3rd largest domestic carrier by capacity in the United Kingdom with 23,5% share, after easyJet and British Airways.

AirlineCapacity% of total
British Airways126.13730,37%
Aer Lingus7.3081,76%
Skybus (United Kingdom)1.0640,26%
Hebridean Air Services2700,06%

When it comes to frequency, the airline operates the most domestic flights in the United Kingdom, with every 1 of 3 domestic flights operated by flybe:

AirlineFrequency% of total
British Airways81620,24%
Skybus (United Kingdom)561,39%
Aer Lingus421,04%
Hebridean Air Services300,74%

With it’s fleet of 67, flybe operates capacity out of 42 airports next week – 23 in the UK.

AirportCapacity% of Total
Manchester Int'l (MAN), GB19.85214,84%
Birmingham Int'l (BHX), GB18.08213,51%
Southampton (SOU), GB17.35512,97%
Belfast City (BHD), GB16.39412,25%
Edinburgh (EDI), GB13.66810,22%
London Heathrow (LHR), GB7.1765,36%
Aberdeen Dyce (ABZ), GB5.9594,45%
London City (LCY), GB5.9464,44%
Glasgow Int'l (GLA), GB5.9204,42%
Exeter (EXT), GB5.1483,85%
Cardiff (CWL), GB4.9103,67%
Newquay (NQY), GB2.5741,92%
Leeds/Bradford (LBA), GB2.1511,61%
East Midlands (EMA), GB1.9811,48%
Newcastle, GB (NCL), GB1.9641,47%
Liverpool (LPL), GB1.4261,07%
London Southend (SEN), GB1.0180,76%
Inverness (INV), GB5660,42%
Teesside (MME), GB5210,39%
Humberside (HUY), GB4490,34%
Bristol Int'l (BRS), GB2980,22%
Anglesey (VLY), GB2900,22%
Wick (WIC), GB1450,11%

The highest number of flights scheduled in the week from 13th of January to 19th of January 2020 to be operated by flybe is from Manchester (250 per week), followed by Southampton (235), Birmingham (220) and Belfast City (205):

AirportCapacity% of Total
Manchester Int'l (MAN), GB25013,95%
Southampton (SOU), GB23513,11%
Birmingham Int'l (BHX), GB22012,28%
Belfast City (BHD), GB20511,44%
Edinburgh (EDI), GB1719,54%
Aberdeen Dyce (ABZ), GB1065,92%
London Heathrow (LHR), GB925,13%
Glasgow Int'l (GLA), GB
Cardiff (CWL), GB734,07%
London City (LCY), GB724,02%
Exter (EXT), GB663,68%
Newcastle, GB (NCL), GB392,18%
Leeds/Bradford (LBA), GB372,06%
Newquay (NQY), GB331,84%
East Midlands (EMA), GB271,51%
Liverpool (LPL), GB191,06%
London Southend (SEN), GB150,84%
Teesside (MME), GB
Humberside (HUY), GB140,78%
Anglesey (VLY), GB100,56%
Inverness (INV), GB70,39%
Bristol Int'l (BRS), GB60,33%
Wick (WIC), GB50,28%

According to the data available at ch-aviation capacities module, we have summarized the possible consequences on airports if flybe suspends operations.

Here is the list of 12 (out of 23) to be most affected UK airports with more than 10% of the flybe capacity, led by Anglesey, where flybe is the only operator. Airports like Southampton, Newquay, Exter Belfast City and Cardiff tend to have the highest risk:

Airport% of flybe. capacity
Anglesey (VLY), GB100,00%
Southampton (SOU), GB
Newquay (NQY), GB78,57%
Exeter (EXT), GB67,69%
Belfast City (BHD), GB66,15%
Cardiff (CWL), GB45,79%
Wick (WIC), GB42,27%
Teesside (MME), GB24,75%
Aberdeen Dyce (ABZ), GB20,82%
Humberside (HUY), GB19,51%
Birmingham Int'l (BHX), GB16,75%
Edinburgh (EDI), GB10,77%

A similar picture emerges by the number of departures, but this time we have 19 airports with more than 10% of flights operated by flybe.  Again, the list is led by the Anglesey and followed by Southampton, Exter, Belfast City, Newquay, Cardiff, Wick, etc.

Airport% of flybe. frequency
Anglesey (VLY), GB100,00%
Southampton (SOU), GB89,69%
Exeter (EXT), GB83,54%
Belfast City (BHD), GB78,54%
Newquay (NQY), GB75,00%
Cardiff (CWL), GB65,18%
Wick (WIC), GB45,45%
Teesside (MME), GB45,45%
Humberside (HUY), GB41,18%
Birmingham Int'l (BHX), GB30,56%
Aberdeen Dyce (ABZ), GB30,37%
Leeds/Bradford (LBA), GB21,89%
Edinburgh (EDI), GB18,87%
Manchester Int'l (MAN), GB18,32%
East Midlands (EMA), GB15,61%
Newcastle, GB (NCL), GB14,72%
Glasgow Int'l (GLA), GB12,98%
London Southend (SEN), GB11,28%
London City (LCY), GB10,81%

The overall picture shows tremendous affects for some regional airports in the UK as flybe is the largest domestic operator in the UK in terms of flights frequency.

ch-aviation capacities module provides instant detailed capacity, frequency and market share information by airlines and airports worldwide.

Following up on the news about FAA bans US carriers from overflying Iran, Iraq, the Gulf, we have looked at some data from the ch-aviation capacities module to understand possible impacts on the industry.

Quick reminder: the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued three Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) barring American civilian carriers from overflying Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Oman at any level. The FAA issued the ban “due to heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the Middle East, which present an inadvertent risk to US civil aviation operations,” following a night of Iranian rocket strikes on US military bases in Iraq.

We have, however, detected that no flights to the USA or flights operated by US carriers were scheduled to Iran or Iraq for the upcoming week 13.01. – 19.01.2020.

81% of the scheduled flights in Iran (21% in Iraq) next week of January are domestic flights, but we have filtered some interesting information out of more than 1,000 scheduled international flights that could be affected by the current situation. Here you can find them filtered by capacity and listed as countries, airlines, and airports:


The total number of international flights scheduled for the next week (13.01.-19.01.) from Iran is 479. Of this number, the most affected flights are to these countries:

1. Turkey, TR 28.718
2. United Arab Emirates (the), AE 17.108
3. Iraq, IQ 10.286
4. Qatar, QA 9.229
5. China, CN 4.633
6. Germany, DE 3.333
7. Oman, OM 3.297
8. Kuwait, KW 3.218
9. Armenia, AM 2.100
10. Austria, AT 1.690

When it comes to the Airlines, the domestic ones are surely and highly affected – Mahan Air & Iran air. following with Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Iraqi Airways, Emirates, flydubai, AtlasGlobal, and Air Arabia. Caspian Airlines, another domestic company, finishes the list of top 10.

1. Mahan Air 28.772
2. Iran Air 14.369
3. Turkish Airlines 9.271
4. Qatar Airways 8.317
5. Iraqi Airways 5.174
6. Emirates 4.852
7. flydubai 3.531
8. AtlasGlobal 3.027
9. Air Arabia 3.024
10. Caspian Airlines 2.952

TOP 10 airports that are most likely to be affected with possible limitations from Iran in the upcoming week:

1. Istanbul New (IST), TR 23.547
2. Dubai Int’I (DOH), QA 14.084
3. Doha Hamad Int’I (DOH), QA 9.229
4. Najaf (NFJ), IQ 4.798
5. Baghdad (BGW), IQ 3.350
6. Muscat (MCT), OM 3.297
7. Kuwait (KWI), KW 3.182
8. Sharjah (SHJ), AE 3.024
9. Frankfurt Int’I (FRA), DE 2.619
10. Yerevan (EVN), AM 2.100


The total number of international flights scheduled for next week from Iraq is 670. Here are potentially the most affected countries, with Turkey leading the capacity of 33.094 seats offered.

1. Turkey, TR 33.094
2. United Arab Emirates (the), AE 14.579
3. Qatar, QA 10.304
4. Iran (Islamic Republic of), IR 9.842
5. Jordan, JO 6.527
6. Lebanon, LB 6.018
7. Saudi Arabia, SA 4.178
8. Syrian Arab Republic (the), SY 3.320
9. Egypt, EG 3.275
10. Bahrain, BH 2.407

Three out of 10 of the most affected airlines are domestic, followed by, as expected, Turkish and Qatar Airways.

1. Iraqi Airways 29.713
2. Turkish Airlines 11.203
3. Qatar Airways 10.304
4. Fly Baghdad 9.238
5. flydubai 5.439
6. Pegasus Airlines 5.049
7. Emirates 4.196
8. AtlasGlobal 4.047
9. Royal Jordanian 3.583
10. UR Airlines 3.108

If limitations lead to an increased number of canceled flights from Iraq the following airports may be most affected, with Istanbul at the top of the list.

1. Istanbul New (IST), TR 18.883
2. Dubai Int’I (DOH), QA 12.227
3. Doha Hamad Int’I (DOH), QA 10.304
4. Istanbul Sabiha Gocken (SAW), TR 7.826
5. Amman Queen Alia (AMM), JO 6.527
6. Beirut (BEY), LB 6.018
7. Tehran Imam Khomeini (IKA), IR 5.643
8. Mashad (MHD), IR 3.693
9. Ankara Esenboga (ESB), TR 3.669
10. Damascus (DAM), SY 3.320


Swiss airline intelligence provider ch-aviation today revealed the names of the world’s youngest airline fleets, measured in average aircraft age. It is the second such ch-aviation analysis on the topic, and the company’s first report was published two years ago in August 2017. Analysis shows several of the youngest airline fleets are in Asia, while “Norwegian Air Sweden” tops the list as the commercial carrier with the youngest fleet of aircraft on a global scale. “VietJetAir” has the youngest aircraft fleet of the large airlines (those with 50 aircraft or more). In the very large airline category, (100 aircraft or more) “Aeroflot” takes the crown for the youngest airline fleet.

The average aircraft flying the globe is 12 years old, shows ch-aviation’s analysis of more than 30’000 active commercial aircraft. This includes passenger and cargo aircraft.

The youngest airline fleets are in Asia with an average age of 8,5 years. The oldest fleets are in the Africa and Oceania regions, where the average fleet is more than 16 years old.

“Our data clearly shows that Asian airlines continue to see tremendous growth, especially the low-cost carriers. This coupled with good access to capital for new aircraft leads to the youngest fleets being in this part of the world” said Thomas Jaeger, ch-aviation CEO.

The airline with the world’s youngest fleet is “Norwegian Air Sweden” which operates a small fleet of 5 aircraft with an average age of 0,74 years. Interestingly, the Swedish subsidiary of “Norwegian” took the crown from another of the firm’s subsidiaries, “Norwegian UK” which was named as having the world’s youngest fleet in 2017. This year “Norwegian UK” took 3rd place, giving up the lead not only to its Swedish sister, but also to “Wizz Air UK”.

Mr. Jaeger further elaborated on Europe’s youngest airline fleets: “We found the interesting phenomenon in Europe where the youngest fleets belong to airlines operating as branded, in-house subsidiaries of larger airline groups. The uncertainty of Brexit, airlines looking for lower-cost operating models and a flux of other reasons mean European airlines are creating subsidiaries in different countries and in many cases moving their youngest aircraft to these newly created entities. Good examples are “Norwegian”, “Wizz Air”, “Ryanair” and “SAS” – these airline groups took all 5 leading places in Europe”.

The airline with the youngest fleet in Asia is Saudi low-cost airline “flyadeal” which operates a fleet of 12 aircraft with an average age of just more than a year. The youngest fleet in South America also belongs to a low-cost airline, in this case, Chile’s “JetSMART”. Interestingly, both of these leading airlines in Asia and South America started operations as recently as 2017. Kenyan low-cost airline “Jambojet” leads Africa’s list with an average aircraft age of 4,3 years.

Canadian regional airline “WestJet Encore” and French Polynesia’s “Air Tahiti” are two airlines that reached the top place in their regions’ youngest fleet ranking in both 2017 and 2019. “WestJet Encore” was the airline with the youngest fleet in North America in 2017 with 40 aircraft and an average age of 2,2 years. In 2019, the fleet had aged to 3,9 years on average, but it was good enough to keep its position in the region. The “Air Tahiti” fleet is now slightly younger than it was two years ago (around four years on average), and this fact guaranteed them the number one position in Oceania.

“This year, we also looked at the youngest fleets for larger airlines separately, because fleet renewal for these airlines is more complex and requires more capital than for small start-ups,” says Thomas Jaeger. “In the category of airlines with 50 aircraft or more, we see Asian low-cost airlines dominating the list. The list of the youngest fleet with 100 aircraft or more, is led by Russian national carrier Aeroflot”.

The youngest fleets worldwide:

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft incl.
Norwegian Air Sweden 0.74 Sweden 5
Wizz Air UK 0.95 UK 10
Norwegian UK 1.04 UK 13
SAS Scandinavian Airlines Ireland 1.30 Ireland 9
Flyadeal 1.34 Saudi Arabia 11

The youngest fleets in Africa:

Jambojet 4.31 Kenya 5
Royal Air Maroc Express 6.03 Morocco 6
Air Austral 6.05 Reunion 8
Ethiopian Airlines 6.11 Ethiopia 104
RwandAir 6.17 Rwanda 12

The youngest fleets in Asia:

flyadeal 1.34 Saudi Arabia 11
JTA – Japan Transocean Air 1.70 Japan 12
Air Travel 2.46 China 9
Qazaq Air 2.57 Kazakhstan 26
Kunming Airlines 2.68 China 26

The youngest fleets in Europe:

Norwegian Air Sweden 0.74 Sweden 5
Wizz Air UK 0.95 UK 10
Norwegian UK 1.04 UK 13
SAS Scandinavian Airlines Ireland 1.30 Ireland 9
Malta Air 1.79 Malta 11

The youngest fleets in North America:

WestJet Encore 3.85 Canada 47
Frontier Airlines 3.90 USA 90
Swoop 3.94 Canada 7
VivaAerobus 3.96 Mexico 34
Volaris 4.61 Mexico 75

The youngest fleets in Oceania:

Air Tahiti 4.03 French Polynesia 10
Mount Cook Airline 6.93 New Zealand 29
Air New Zealand 7.12 New Zealand 65
Virgin Australia International 7.34 Australia 20
Air Tahiti Nui 7.57 French Polynesia 5

The youngest fleets in South America:

JetSMART 1.66 Chile 8
Viva Air Colombia 4.36 Colombia 14
LATAM Express 4.73 Chile 13
LATAM Airlines 5.85 Chile 46
Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras 5.99 Brazil 137


The youngest worldwide among large airlines (50 aircraft or more):

Operator Average aircraft age Home base No of aircraft
VietJetAir 3.24 Vietnam 66
GoAir 3.42 India 51
Batik Air 3.49 Indonesia 58
Frontier Airlines 3.90 USA 90
Norwegian Air International 4.32 Ireland 67

The youngest worldwide among extra-large airlines (100 aircraft or more):

Aeroflot 4.70 Russia 250
Hainan Airlines 5.06 China 237
Saudia 5.13 Saudi Arabia 155
Wizz Air 5.43 Hungary 104
Sichuan Airlines 5.65 China 155

ch-aviation included only commercial carriers with five or more aircraft with 30-plus seats. Data from “ch-aviation fleets advanced” as of August 2019.


Chur, Switzerland 10 August 2017 – Europe and China compete for world’s youngest fleets. Africa and North America come in last.

Who would expect that two European low-cost airlines would have some of the youngest aircraft in the world? As millions of people head to the airport to go on summer vacation, ch-aviation has crunched the numbers to find out who has the world’s youngest fleet.

In first place is Norwegian UK, taking out the title of world’s youngest fleet. The average age of a Norwegian UK plane is just under one year. Rounding out the rest of the world’s top five – all with an average fleet age of less than two years – are Colorful Guizhou Airlines and Loong Air from China, Germany’s Eurowings, and Swiss Global Air Lines. Read more

Reading through the global news headlines I couldn’t help noticing that, for the last few weeks, most of the world’s attention has centred on Washington’s relationship with two of its longtime foes – North Korea and Iran. The former intent on threatening its way out of its current economic and diplomatic chokehold, the latter trying to keep a hold of a valuable international deal that has reaped great rewards for local industry – aviation in particular.

But there is one more pariah state that has quietly been re-engaging with the United States over these past few months and is now starting to see the benefits that cooperation with Washington, rather than endless belligerence, can bring.

Sudan. Read more

The year 2015 in a nutshell – Get the report here!


Read more about the 2015 developments in the Aviation Market

In this report, aviation consultancy PROLOGIS presents the year 2015 in figures.

This is a market monitor, based on data prepared by airline intelligence provider ch-aviation, that summarizes capacity, frequency and fleet developments of the last year.

The paper contains a year-on-year analysis, comparing weekly seat capacities and frequencies for the week of Monday, October 20, 2014 with the week of Monday, October 19, 2015. Data of a total of 736 airlines worldwide was taken into consideration. In addition, fleet data of nearly 1,300 passenger and cargo airlines was analyzed with regard to fleet size and age, contrasting November 3, 2015, against November 1, 2014. Figures of 2015 deliveries by aircraft manufacturers were also taken into consideration.

Get the report here!

An in-depth analysis of the European regional airline market and its development within the last five years, 33% of all regional carriers in Europe went out of business between 2008 and today, nearly one fourth of the employees lost their jobs. …


Authors: Hanna Schaal (PROLOGIS) and Max Oldorf (ch-aviation)


Are European Regionals’ Successful Days Numbered?

To download the following analysis as a PDF file click here.


33.33% of all regional carriers in Europe went out of business between 2008 and today, nearly one fourth of the employees lost their jobs. PROLOGIS and ch-aviation have scrutinized Europe’s regional airline market.

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like Europe’s regional airlines’ market exits are as common as their entries? Don’t you occasionally wonder if this industry still bears any potential? In order to gain clarity in this matter, PROLOGIS and ch-aviation conducted a study of the European regional market, comparing data from 2008 with data from 2013.

The results are quite frightening: 44 new airlines were founded from 2008 on, 22 of them have already vanished. The overall mortality rate was 33.33%.

But the most concerning number is probably a job loss rate of 23 % between 2008 and today, which means that almost every fourth employee lost his job.

It seems like regional carriers’ successful days are history.

The Affiliates – Dwindling Partnerships

It all started in the early days with the traditional regional carrier model, which is still very popular today. Affiliated airlines supply or ‘feed’ large network carriers’ hubs with passengers from small, nearby regional airports. In many cases, the relationship between network airlines and the subcontractors is based on a parent-subsidiary model, with the affiliates operating either under their own brands or a regional brand. Lufthansa, for example, currently has four regional partners (Air Dolomiti, CityLine, Eurowings and Augsburg Airways), all 100% subsidiaries with the exception of Augsburg Airways that together form Lufthansa Regional. Nevertheless, the Augsburg Airways regional partnership will be terminated at the end of Lufthansa’s summer schedule 2013 after 16 years due to the German legacy carrier’s restructuring program ‘Score’.[1] Along with the previous termination of the equally longstanding partnership with Contact Air in October 2012, the German airline will have parted from two regional partners within only a year.

A similar decrease in regional affiliated partnerships can be observed at Air France-KLM and IAG (International Airlines Group, holding company of British Airways & Iberia). To cut costs, Air France will be merging the three regionals Airlinair, Brit Air and Régional under a single new brand called ‘Hop!’ as of March 31, 2013, that will operate most non-hub routes with a low-cost carrier like product offering.[2] British Airways already sold its regional BA Connect to British regional Flybe. in March 2007, as the management did “not see any prospect of profitability in its current form”[3] anymore.

All three major European carrier groups not only face increasing pressure from still fast growing low-cost carriers for traffic within Europe. They also feel competition from expanding international carriers, increasingly serving smaller European markets, from hubs in the Middle East for example. These factors have led to lower yields for point-to-point regional traffic and lower demand for hub and spoke traffic within Europe as well as for intercontinental flights. This makes it difficult to continue profitable regional operations with small aircraft.

The Independents – Decreasing Profits?

Flybe. – the keyword that reminds us that when we talk about regional carriers, we are not only referring to affiliates. Since the mid-1990s, there have been a growing number of totally independent carriers that offer point-to-point service to both small regional and large international airports, operating under their own brands and with no ties to large network carriers. Since the acquisition of BA Connect in 2007 we just mentioned, Flybe. is Europe’s largest regional carrier in general. For the six months until 30 September 2012, however, the group that includes Flybe. Nordic (a joint venture with Finnair) reported a pre-tax loss of £1.3m (€1.5m). Flybe. blamed the results on fuel prices at record highs and a decrease in passenger numbers in the UK domestic aviation market.[4] The Norwegian regional Widerøe, that is still fully owned by SAS (with a sale expected this year [5]), but operating fairly independently, was selected European Airline of the Year 2012 by the ERA (European Regional Airline Association). Yet, the award cannot hide the fact that the carrier’s operating profit decreased by 59.8% between December 2011 and October 2012. Other European independents must deal with financial results similar to Flybe.’s and Widerøe’s.

Regionals in Europe: Overall Analysis Results

How did we obtain our results and what do they look like in greater detail? In order to analyze Europe’s regional carrier market and its development within the last five years, we compared airline and fleet data from January 1, 2008, with current data (date of data analysis: February 17, 2013). Regionally, the scope of the study includes all EU member states plus Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland. The underlying data for the study is based on a combination of the ch-aviation airline knowledge base, jp airline-fleets and manual research by ch-aviation.

During the time period we observed a total of 195 regional airlines have operated in the countries under consideration, of which only 130 carriers are still active today. This means a loss of 65 regional airlines over the last five years, reflecting a significant mortality rate of 33.33%.

This rate is even more alarming when we only look at the carriers entering the market between 2008 and today: Every second newly founded carrier was unable to survive. The numbers look a bit better for the airlines that already existed before 2008. Of all 151 regionals that existed before 2008, 108 (71.52%) are still operating. They represent more than three quarters (83.08%) of today’s active carriers.
To sum things up, there has been a major airline decline over the last few years. The regional market in Europe in particular does not seem promising to start-ups. Moreover, it should be mentioned that the decline of regional airlines has a negative effect on secondary airports, frequently the bases of regionals. The cessation of a carrier can result in a drastic reduction in airport business volume, making its future uncertain.

Affiliates versus Independents: Converging Ratio

The distinct analysis of affiliated/network airlines and independent carriers revealed a current 1:2 ratio (42 affiliates/network carriers with regional operations = 32.31%, 88 independents = 67.69%; see Figure 3). This ratio has converged. In total, between 2008 and 2013, there were 49 affiliates/network carriers with regional operations (= 25.13%) and 146 independents (= 74.87%) amounting to a ratio of 1:3.

With regard to affiliates and network carriers with their own regional operations, alterations have been comparably low over the last five years. Only two new airlines were founded between then and now that fall in this category, Cimber which launched in 2012 and Olympic Air in 2008. Both weren’t new market participants in the proper sense, but rather successors: Cimber evolved from the insolvent Cimber Sterling (and works closely with SAS) and Olympic Air from Olympic Airlines.

14.29% of the affiliates withdrew from the market. In contrast, 39.73% of the independents have gone out of business. Considering only independents, the highest mortality rate could be observed between the years: A total of 42 carriers were founded from 2008 on, yet 55% of them have failed.

Fleet Development

How have fleets changed over the past five years? In 2008, 706 aircraft with 20-50 seats were operated by European regionals. Within five years, this number decreased by 53.26% to 330. There was also a decrease in the number of aircraft with less than 19 seats (by 13.79%). Only the amount of 50-100 seaters increased by 3.37% from 682 to 705 (see Figure 5). In summary, we can observe a trend away from aircraft with fewer than 50 seats towards aircraft with 50-100 seats.

It is expected that the demise of 37-50 seat regional jets in Europe will come sooner rather than later. This corresponds with a similar development in the United States where major carriers are currently slashing regional jets in this category from their contracts with regional partners very proactively, moving to higher capacity regional aircraft. Lufthansa’s regional affiliates have retired 60 50-seat aircraft in five years, as Lufthansa has decided to drop all of these aircraft and now to also drop all 70 seat turboprops by the end of 2013.

And yet, it was small regional jets like Bombardier’s CRJ-200 or Embraer’s ERJ-145 that replaced turboprops in the mid-nineties. They made flying both short and long routes with just a few passengers more economical and were considered more attractive for passengers, thereby constituting stepping stones into profitability for many regional airlines. However, triggered by the post-9/11 recession, the below 50 seat jets’ success started going south. Regional airlines that also often face competition from low-cost carriers launching the same or similar routes with a completely different business model began moving towards larger regional jets and back to turboprops (as new aircraft types with lower per seat costs have become available).

At some point, the costs of operating 50 seat jets could not be justified any longer after the fuel prices exploded coupled with the global financial crisis.[6] In order to distribute fix costs over a higher amount of seats, the majority of the carriers now focus on operating large 90-plus seat jets like the ERJ195 or CRJ-900 or slightly smaller turboprops like the ATR72-600 or Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 where routes justify the use of these aircraft. Other routes are either dropped altogether or picked up by other carriers operating smaller turboprop aircraft (that will face a problem of their own due to the lack of fleet replacement options) as no new turboprops with 20-50 seats are being offered anymore with the ATR42-600 being the only 50 seat turboprop still for sale.

Green cells = More than 20 deliveries/year of a series (e.g. Fokker70/100, EMB-190/EMB-195) Data source: ch-aviation

The victims: Employees

The preceding analysis results clearly illustrate the regional markets’ downturn in Europe. And, as usual, the recession’s pain is felt most by the employees.

In total, 12,184 regional airline jobs were lost in the European regions we evaluated. Based on a sample of 20 affiliated regional carriers and 20 independents, regionals in Europe currently employ a total of 36 direct and indirect employees per aircraft on average. In total, 12,184 regional airline jobs were lost in the European regions we evaluated. From a rational perspective, this means that over the last five years seven jobs were lost every day. This number probably reflects the dramatic drop in Europe’s regional aviation industry better than any previous figures referred to in this article.

When analyzing the development of jobs in Europe’s regional airline industry, we made a distinction between direct and indirect airline jobs. Direct jobs refer only to the aircrew needed to operate the aircraft, that is pilots and flight attendants. Indirect jobs include all other jobs in operations, administration and engineering. Based on PROLOGIS and ch-aviation estimates, there were 15,118 direct regional airline jobs within the EU and the other European countries we analyzed in 2008. By the beginning of 2013, this number had dropped to 11,930 (a decrease of 21%). During the same five year period, indirect jobs were reduced by 8,996 from 38,486 to 29,490, accounting for a decrease of 23%.

Conclusion and Outlook

Establishing a new airline, no matter whether it is a regional, low cost or network carrier, is a huge challenge and anything but a guarantee of financial success. However, we are still observing all of these new airline start-ups every year. This raises the question: Are the founders and investors in all of these new regional market participants aware of the high risks and low chances of success? Have they recognized the consequences that come along with a failing attempt? And, if so, what is their motivation to still keep trying to enter regional markets with new ventures? After scrutinizing Europe’s regional carriers’ development over the past five years, we believe that this industry is indeed quite challenging at its current stage. Nevertheless, there still seems to be room for growth in some regional niche markets.

When carriers are located at or fly to regions where alternatives are limited or nonexistent, there still is potential. Carriers like Direktflyg, Malmö Aviation, Nextjet and virtual operator Sverigeflyg mainly focus on the Swedish and Scandinavian regional market respectively. Widerøe primarily flies within Norway. Air Iceland offers domestic flights and routes to Greenland and the Faroe Islands. These are a few independent carrier examples with low competition from other carriers or modes of transportation which seem to work on their own or thanks to public service obligation schemes with government support in place to serve remote regions effectively. But most regions in Europe do not offer such niche conditions. And if not sheltered from competition for whatever reason (geographically, airport constraints etc.), regionals quite often have trouble keeping up with low-cost carriers from a competitive perspective, and, from a technological and organizational perspective to effectively work closely, with large international network airlines (i.e. interlining, codesharing, through check-in). So, as network carriers drop regional routes, the point to point demand on these routes is often insufficient for an existing or new regional carrier without network connectivity to take them over. Thus, it is often unlikely that these routes will be served again.

In conclusion, the current situation within Europe’s regional airline markets is no bed of roses unless independent carriers can make use of one of the few prosperous niches to settle, thrive and prosper in.

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About Prologis and ch-aviation

ch-aviation is managed by a team of passionate aviation professionals from Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Since 1998 offers a wide range of tools and search options targeted at aviation industry professionals to get access to:

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With an average of 7 years of practical experience working for airlines, airports and ground handling companies, the PROLOGIS consultants are recognized experts on the following topics:

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