International Air Transport Association (IATA) wants governments and regulators to encourage stronger European cohesion and economic development by embracing policies to promote greater air connectivity.
Willie Walsh, IATA Director General, said: “Europe, just like the rest of the world, relies on air connectivity, which is vital for society, tourism and trade. Business users of the European air transport network – large and small – have confirmed this in a recent IATA survey: 82 per cent say that access to global supply chains is ‘existential’ for their business. And 84 per cent ‘cannot imagine doing business’ without access to air transport networks.”
IATA Economics developed a report analysing the extent of the connectivity provided by Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs) and network carriers in Europe. It concluded that they offer different and complementary types of connectivity, while also competing on many popular routes.
Notable report findings were:
- Number of European-registered LCCs has nearly doubled since 2004 to 35, while the number of network carriers has fallen slightly over the same period (from 149 to 131)
- Number of passengers on origin-destination non-stop flights within Europe carried by LCCs reached 407.3 million in 2019, compared to 222.5 million for network carriers
- Within Europe, the number of origin-to-destination flight itineraries served by network carriers is two to four times greater than the flight itineraries served by LCCs before the pandemic.
Another important aspect is facilitating services to remote or small urban centres. Network carriers use a hub-and-spoke model which enables a large network of connections even where demand is low, ensuring smaller or more remote European cities with runways can be connected to worldwide destinations. This model enables trade and economic development.
The report found that:
- The number of passengers flying connecting itineraries within Europe carried by LCCs was less than nine million in 2019, compared to around 46 million carried by network carriers
- While 72 per cent of intra-European passenger demand flies on routes that have competition between LCCs and network carriers, it comprises only six per cent of total intra-European itineraries. Around 79 per cent of European itineraries are flown by network carriers only (compared to 15 per cent which are LCCs-only). Therefore, LCCs tend to compete with network carriers on the most popular routes, but network carriers perform a vital function providing connectivity to less popular European destinations, which is only viable because of the hub-and-spoke model.
And with air travel recovery staying strong in September, it is important that carriers are offering routes that customers are looking for.