European low-cost offering keeps growing

Travel choices within Europe soared in January with 2 million more
low-cost seats on sale than this time last year, a growth of 15 per
cent.The number of low-cost flights scheduled within the region rose by
more than 10,000 for the month resulting in Europe now accounting for a
quarter of all low cost flights worldwide.

The world’s airlines scheduled 83,600 flights to and from Europe, 6,000
more than in January last year and more than 25,000 more than in January
2002 when the global aviation industry was still reeling from the
aftershocks of 9/11.

This eight per cent increase in air services to and from Europe compares
with worldwide January-to-January growth of just four per cent. The
low-cost sector saw a sharp 57 per cent rise in the number of flights to
and from the region, largely attributed to new services between Europe
and North Africa. 

Airlines have laid on an extra million-plus seats to and from Europe in
January (up seven per cent to more than 19 million). The total number of
seats on sale within the region for January was more than 60 million (up
six per cent) compared with 45 million five years ago.

The figures are revealed in the latest OAG Quarterly Airline Traffic
Statistics, a regular snapshot of airline activity around the world.
Travel and transport company OAG collates data from more than 1,000
scheduled airlines, on a daily basis, to give an overview of anticipated
travel demand.

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“Currently there seems no ceiling to the expansion of the low cost
sector,” says OAG’s managing director Duncan Alexander.

“Each year you think it is going to slow down yet existing players
expand and although some leave the stage there are plenty of new
arrivals.”

In relative terms, the best New Year figures have been returned by the
Middle East and Africa.  January’s total of 33,000 flights to and from
the Middle East is 12 per cent up on last year, while the number of
flights to and from Africa has risen ten per cent to nearly 27,000.

Flights to and from the US, the world’s most mature aviation market, are
five per cent higher at 114,700, while January’s 818,000 US domestic
flights constitute a two per cent increase on January 2006. 

Conversely, the UK market saw a greater year-on-year increase
domestically than in its international services, with the number of
flights rising four and one per cent respectively.

International routes showing the greatest increase were between Western
Europe and the Middle East with an 11 per cent increase in flights and
15 per cent in seat numbers, and between Western Europe and Africa,
which saw a rise of 10 per cent in the number of flights and 8 per cent
in capacity.

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