Well that was a relief! After a dismal Q1, things have taken a turn for the better in Q2, with Easter adding some sparkle to the numbers reported by our group of LCCs. Airlines do tend to go on a bit about Easter having a significant impact on their numbers, yet the comparison between the first two quarters of this year and last do seem to bear this out. After all, a two or three week holiday period spaced nicely between Christmas and the Summer offers up almost a month of nice prices in an otherwise unattractive part of the year. So not surprisingly, the lack of Easter in the first quarter dragged the quarter down to be worse than it otherwise would have been. And so consequently, the appearance of Easter in the second quarter has made this quarter look artificially better than it deserved. And so to some numbers.
On the 1st of September 2017, the Scottish regional airline Loganair will cease its franchise agreement with Flybe and begin operating as a wholly independent airline for the first time in nearly 25 years. Flybe, seemingly upset by this decision, has announced a partnership with Eastern Airways to operate half a dozen competing routes with Loganair. These are thin routes designed primarily to provide “lifeline” links to remote communities – they surely cannot support two competing airlines, and an awful lot of money will be lost in the process of finding that out.
June 2017 has seen LCC fares across Europe decrease by 7% compared to June last year. This is also the first month since February 2016 where fares 1 week before travel have fallen further than the average, suggesting that the business-market “bubble” may finally have burst.
Last month we reported that average fares were up for LCCs across Europe for the first time in over a year. We warned that the timing of Easter causes some misleading comparisons for 2017 v 2016, but still there appeared to be an underlying trend of positivity. Any optimism has been tempered this month as our fare data for May 2016 shows fares for LCCs across Europe are down by 12% compared to May 2016.
Airport and handling charges are Ryanair’s second biggest expense. The airline regularly features in the news alongside airport charges, whether it be closing a base because charges have risen, or opening new services thanks to some agreement with an airport or government or tourism organisation. Low charges are key to the success of Ryanair, which makes recent moves into European hubs more than just the usual round of annual network expansion.