I recently learned a fact that surprised me, that Europe’s regionals—when combined together—wouldmake up the largest airline in Europe by number of flights.
This observation was made by Simon McNamara, who is director general of the European Regions Airline Association (ERA), which lobbies on behalf of 52 European regional airlines.
“If ERA was an airline, we’d be the biggest airline in Europe,” McNamara said, showing the slide below.
Okay, I accept this is very notional, as these airlines operate as individual carriers and not a combined group. It is also based on number of flights, rather than revenue, passenger numbers, or fleet size, but it demonstrates the size of the regional airline industry in Europe and its importance.
In total, there are 116 air operator’s certificate (AOC) holders in the EU. Five airline groups may make up 55% of the European market – up from 54% last year – but the remaining 45% is made up of smaller airlines.
ERA’s members operate 1.1 million flights a year and carry 62 million passengers (yes, this is far fewer than the larger players) using a fleet of 765 aircraft, contributing €52 billion to European GDP.
Consolidation means there are 20 fewer airlines than this time last year and McNamara said there is no doubt that this trend is continuing through mergers and airline failures. However, he remains optimistic about trading conditions, with member airline ASKs up 5% this summer, average aircraft size rising 7% and 8% more routes being flown.
“The overall picture one of growth positivity. Our members are doing well, which is good to see after five years of incredibly difficult trading conditions. The airlines we have in business now are doing something right, as they have gone through the toughest five years in the business,” he said.
Despite the ongoing march towards industry consolidation, Europe is looking politically and culturally fragmented post-Brexit, making connecting the dots and the people living on those ‘dots’ even more important.
Victoria Moores firstname.lastname@example.org