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Europe’s Aviation Recovery: Albania Excels While Germany Lags Behind

SimpleFlying logo SimpleFlying 5/18/2022 James Pearson

As restrictions increasingly loosen in European countries, demand rises and airline capacity returns toward, or even exceeds, pre-pandemic levels.

Across European countries, departing seats for sale in the all-important third quarter (July, August, September) total 220.8 million, based on the latest OAG data from May 16th. They're at 93.7% of what they were in Q3 2019, down by 6.3% – a loss of 14.8 million. The growth of LCCs/ULCCs (up 37%) have played a vital role. This look follows the Air Service One/The ANKER Report, which analyzed the situation at the start of the month.

Potential stumbling blocks in the recovery is a lack of staff, including ground and cabin crew, coming exactly when it's not needed: as the peak summer approaches. It will potentially delay, or at least complicate, the recovery; British Airways is leasing Finnair A321s for this reason. Widespread inflation and rising airport charges, rising fares, and higher government taxes will also negatively impact demand and therefore the recovery.

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The top ten countries

As shown below, Albania is far above all other countries by added capacity in the third quarter. It is up by 62% versus 2019, with more than 409,000 additional departing seats. It is mainly due to one operator: Wizz Air. The ULCC is also primarily responsible for the growth in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, and North Macedonia, with large numbers of routes added.

Wizz Air added two more aircraft in Albania for eight. It launched Kukës, its second airport in the country, and grew Tirana. In Q3, Wizz Air Group has 54% of Albania's capacity and has bigger plans.

  1. Albania: Q3 2022 has 162.0% of the seats compared with 2019 (i.e., growth of 62%)
  2. Bosnia and Herzegovina: 149.7%
  3. Romania: 116.6%
  4. Greece: 116.1%
  5. North Macedonia: 111.7%
  6. Montenegro: 110.8%
  7. Serbia: 110.4%
  8. Luxembourg: 104.5%
  9. Iceland: 104.1%
  10. Estonia: 102.2%

In terms of total capacity added, Greece is the easy winner. It has almost 2.4 million more than it did in 2019, pushing its offer to 17.1 million. It is now Europe's eighth-busiest country, up by one place, helped by significant growth by Aegean Airlines (230%), easyJet (157%), Ryanair (135%), and many more. Across all carriers, most of Greece's expansion has, as you'd expect, come from islands rather than Athens.

Colin Cooke via Flickr<\/a>."" data-modal-id="single-image-modal" data-modal-container-id="single-image-modal-container" data-img-caption="""">
Aegean has added 1.8 million seats versus Q3 2019, positioning it well for the crucial peak summer. Photo: Colin Cooke via Flickr.

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The bottom ten countries

As shown below, Belarus has, not surprisingly, recovered the least, with capacity at just 37%. The inclusion of Ukraine is unfortunately optimistic, given there is no end in sight to the war. Many airlines plan Ukraine flights in the third quarter, but they'll probably be removed.

Notice Finland (69.7%) and Sweden (80.2%), both well below previous levels, in stark contrast to Norway – the location of Routes Europe 2022, from where I'm writing – now at 101.7%. Norway and Sweden have no COVID restrictions, while Finland does.

  1. Belarus: Q3 2022 has 37.3% of the seats of 2019 (i.e., a fall of 62.7%)
  2. Slovenia: 54.7%
  3. Czech Republic: 63.4%
  4. Slovakia: 64.2%
  5. Finland: 69.7%
  6. Ukraine: 71.4%
  7. Sweden: 80.2%
  8. Latvia: 80.6%
  9. Germany: 80.7%
  10. Bulgaria: 81.2%
Eurowings Discover launched in 2021 and has introduced large numbers of new routes and also replaced its parent, Lufthansa, in various lower-yielding markets. Photo: via Tocumen International Airport.<\/p>\n"" data-modal-id="single-image-modal" data-modal-container-id="single-image-modal-container" data-img-caption="""">

Eurowings Discover launched in 2021 and has introduced large numbers of new routes and also replaced its parent, Lufthansa, in various lower-yielding markets. Photo: via Tocumen International Airport.

Germany: the worst-hit big country

The biggest standout is Germany. According to OAG, it is Europe's third-largest market this quarter but among the least recovered (80.7%). It is down by 8.6 million seats. In comparison, there's the UK (90.4%), France (90.9%), Spain (96.3%), and Italy (101.4%).

Lufthansa has slightly recovered more than the whole country (82.9%), but Eurowings, Ryanair, easyJet, TUI fly Deutschland, and more, are down by more. easyJet is at 40%, but that is somewhat unfair: it reflects the vast cuts it already made to its German network from unprofitability.

What is the most surprising thing for you? Let us know in the comments.

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