Budget airlines have been a crucial growth driver in international aviation, but there is a shift taking place that could undermine some smaller regional airports
Connectivity and a liberalised market are important for a healthy aviation industry. Over more than a decade, low-cost carriers (LCCs) have exploited liberalisation to become a major force in building connectivity.
By opening up point-to-point (P2P) routes from small and inexpensive airports, LCCs created new routes that full-service carriers would never have envisaged. Often they have set up alternative gateways to large cities: for example, Beauvais-Tillé Airport for Paris, Girona-Costa Brava Airport for Barcelona, and Skavsta Airport for Stockholm.
Their quick-witted actions led to high growth. According to aviation economics analyst RDC, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for LCCs in the last decade has been 7.1%, more than twice the 3.5% CAGR for the total global market (including all commercial flights).
LCCs also brought much-needed revenue to small and regional airports, many of which are part of the 69% of gateways worldwide that lose money, according to ACI World. Unfortunately for regional airports, that trend is reversing.
Speaking in March 2017 during the ACI Airport Economics and Finance Conference in London, Jaap de Wit, professor emeritus of transport economics at the University of Amsterdam, described the shift from secondary to primary airports, and the inevitable impacts.
"Airlines like Ryanair and easyJet are building major networks from bigger airports. The consequences could be dramatic for secondary gateways, which have been LCC bases. You lose a base, you lose a huge network. There are several examples in Europe where this disaster is taking place," he said.
For instance, Ryanair moved part of its operation from Brussels South Charleroi Airport to Brussels Airport in 2014. The move made sense according to Léon Verhallen, head of aviation marketing at Brussels Airport.
See related article at: http://www.ihsairport360.com/article/9001/gittens-highlights-connectivity-in-a-volatile-future
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