European Airlines Report Strong August Performance

European Airlines Report Strong August Performance

Valencia Airport

DALLAS — European airlines have reported excellent results in terms of passenger traffic and overall movements as the end of August marks the conclusion of the busiest period of the summer season.

According to Flightradar24, the rapid recovery of leisure air travel demand was evident in the daily number of flights operated during July and August. The peak was observed on July 20, with a total of 139,238 commercial flights recorded worldwide.

In Europe, the major tourism campaign initiated by low-cost carriers such as Ryanair (FR), Easyjet (U2), Jet2 (LS), TUI Airways (BY), and Wizz Air (W6) resulted in a significant influx of north-to-south traffic. This traffic facilitated the transportation of passengers from colder Nordic countries to popular Mediterranean destinations, including Malaga (AGP), Palma de Mallorca (PMI), Marseille (MRS), Venice (VCE), and Corfu (CFU).

We’ve compiled a selection of quarterly results recently released by European airlines, indicating a positive trend in the industry’s recovery following one of the most severe crises experienced in commercial aviation.

AirBaltic’s summer presence in Spain includes Palma de Mallorca (PMI), Barcelona (BCN), and Madrid (MAD) (in the photo). Photo: Adrian Nowakowski/Airways.

airBaltic Challenges Scandinavian Competitors

The flag carrier of the Baltic states, airBaltic (BT), achieved impressive results with nearly half a million passengers transported throughout its European network. Initially focusing on connecting Riga (RIX), Vilnius (VNO), Tallinn (TLL), and Tampere (TMP) with Western and Southern Europe, airBaltic has made significant progress.

With the recent addition of its 43rd Airbus A220 aircraft on September 2, airBaltic has identified a promising opportunity to compete with Scandinavian and Spanish airlines. As part of this strategy, the carrier plans to temporarily base two aircraft at Gran Canaria Airport (LPA) during the winter season. These aircraft will operate flights to destinations such as Billund (BLL), Copenhagen (CPH), Bergen (BGO), and Oslo (OSL).

Alongside its notable expansion from Scandinavia to the popular Nordic holiday spot, the Canary Islands, airBaltic (BT) has revealed plans to introduce a new route schedule in summer 2024. This move aims to strengthen the airline’s presence in the sought-after Balkan region.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A321neo (SE-DMS). Photo: Marty Basaria/Airways.

SAS Offered 25% More Seats This Summer

Scandinavian Airlines (SK), on the contrary, has made significant strides in terms of seat availability and passenger numbers, experiencing a remarkable 25% increase in both areas compared to the previous summer. This airline, operating from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, successfully transported 2.3 million passengers in August, predominantly on flights within Europe and within Scandinavia.

Anko van der Werff, CEO of Scandinavian Airlines, said, “We worked hard to ramp up for the summer season and we are pleased to see the strong demand and high passenger numbers. We continue to see healthy demand for travel, and we will increase capacity for the winter season too.”

SAS concentrated a large part of its leisure network from Stockholm (ARN), Oslo (OSL), Bergen (BGO), and Copenhagen (CPH), among others, flying to the main holiday destinations in Southern Europe, especially Spain, with a great presence in Palma de Mallorca (PMI), Alicante (ALC) and Tenerife (TFS).

Norwegian Air Boeing 737-8 SE-RTB. Photo: Dominik Csordás/Airways

Norwegian Flew 2.1 Million Passengers in August

Despite having a lower passenger count than its premium competitor in Scandinavia, Norwegian (DY) operates a smaller fleet across all its subsidiaries. This results in higher aircraft utilization and turnaround in proportion to its fleet size compared to SAS.

Rephrased: After the previous carrier ceased operations in 2021, the newly established low-cost airline, which obtained new Air Operator Certificates (AOCs), is optimistic about the booking trend for the upcoming autumn season. The airline had a successful summer campaign, transporting 2.1 million passengers in August with an impressive load factor of 85.2%.

Out of its total fleet of 84 aircraft from the Boeing 737 family, 14 of them are part of the newer MAX series. Furthermore, the airline anticipates receiving three more aircraft of the latest variant in the near future.

Finnair (OH-LKH) Embraer E190. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways.

Finnair Prepares its Centenary with Solid Results

Rephrased: Despite the ongoing impact of the Russian airspace closure, Finnair (AY) demonstrated strong performance in August. This success can be attributed not only to the European summer season but also to the launch of three new Middle Eastern flights from Copenhagen (CPH), Stockholm (ARN), and Helsinki (HEL) to Doha (DOH) in partnership with Qatar Airways (QR).

In August 2023, Finnair successfully transported 969,800 passengers, marking a 10.1% increase compared to the previous year. However, this figure does indicate a decline compared to July, as the airline began the “return phase” of the summer season by flying customers back to Finland. The average passenger load factor reached 80%, indicating a high occupancy rate on each flight.

Finnair is approaching its 100th anniversary in November, which is considered one of the most significant milestones in the European and Asian aviation industry. This celebration is a testament to the airline’s exceptional role in facilitating passenger transportation to Japan and South Korea through Helsinki, not only in present times but also during the Cold War in the 20th century.

Aegean Airlines (SX-NAH) Airbus A321neo. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways.

Aegean; Record Profitability During Toughest Times

Aegean Airlines (A3), the flag carrier of Greece, reported impressive performance in the second quarter of the year. During this period, the airline transported over 4 million passengers on flights connecting Greece with various destinations across Europe.

Being the national carrier of a popular tourist destination for Europeans, Aegean Airlines played a crucial role in encouraging travel to Greece. The airline achieved this by introducing 16 additional international routes and increasing flight frequencies to destinations in Spain, Germany, Scandinavia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

Aegean Airlines also announced that it had secured a dry lease agreement for an additional A321neo aircraft from CDB Aviation. The delivery of this aircraft is anticipated to take place in the spring of 2025.

Despite the positive performance, Greece is currently facing one of its most challenging periods due to severe storms and flooding that pose a threat to the country. This situation has resulted in numerous flight delays, cancellations, and even airport closures, such as Skiathos (JSI), which are making it difficult for tourists to return during the summer season’s final phase.

Featured image: Fabrizio Spicuglia/Airways

Correspondent - Europe & Middle East
Commercial aviation enthusiast from Madrid, Spain. Studying for a degree in Air Traffic Management and Operations at the Technical University of Madrid. Aviation photographer since 2018.

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