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EU low-cost airlines: What’s changed in a year?

EU low-cost airlines: What’s changed in a year?

In Europe, the low-cost airline is King and, despite dwindling comfort and ever-growing restrictions (Ryanair, we’re talking about your baggage policy here!), they are still the go-to options for many travellers. However, we all know delays can happen and many passengers have simply come to expect it as a part of travelling by plane. So, why not find out how the five biggest low-cost airlines in Europe – Ryanair, Easyjet, Vueling, Wizz Air and Norwegian Air Shuttle – have done over the past year?

By using OAG’s On-Time Performance (OTP) Report from last October and comparing it to the report for the same month this year, we can see which of these airlines have improved in terms of arriving on time (in this case within 15 minutes of time scheduled). OAG also reports on the percentage of flight cancellations for each airline, a factor we’ll additionally cover.

Let’s start with the largest, Ryanair. The airline, even with an increase in flights this year of around 3000, is the most improved in terms of OTP. This October, 83.4% of flights arrived on time, compared to 78% last year. Moreover, cancellations have decreased by 0.3%.

Easyjet has also gotten better, but not as significantly as Ryanair – OTP has gone up by 0.8%, whereas cancellations have gone down from 0.5% to 0.4%. Flights were slightly less this year – 55,262 compared to last year’s 55,351, so Easyjet has actually remained fairly consistent.

Vueling’s improvement is comparable to Ryanair’s – OTP went up from 75% to 79.5%, and cancellations decreased from 1.8% to 1.6%. However, there were only 29 more flights this October, so this should be taken into account when looking at the results.

Next, we have Wizz Air, the only one of our five airlines which didn’t improve in terms of OTP or cancellation rate. This October saw a 1% decrease in OTP and a 0.3% increase in cancelled flights – but seeing as there were around 1400 more flights this year, this isn’t as dire as it may initially seem.

Finally, we have Norwegian Air Shuttle, another airline which has bettered itself. Cancelled flights have gone down from 0.6% to 0.2% and OTP has increased by 3.7%. Bear in mind that flights have decreased, but only by 722.

It’s fairly surprising, given the horror stories we keep hearing about these low-cost airlines, that most of them have actually gotten better. Plus, the only one that didn’t – Wizz Air – is still in good stead. Perhaps this spells a positive future for our more affordable options. Okay, there may still be the question of shrinking leg room and the lack of any services whatsoever, but at least we’re more likely to arrive at our destination on time. Well, here’s hoping. Let’s check back this time next year and see if this positivity continues!