Low-cost air rush on Vienna Airport

Also Level takes part in the lowcost battle at Vienna´s Airport/ Photo: Level








How much air is left for budget airlines at Vienna Schwechat Airport? Never before has the rush of low cost airlines for an airport been so great. Low prices delight passengers.

Many low-cost airlines are approaching the airport Vienna Schwechat – and almost daily there are more. On 17 July, British Airways parent company IAG launched a low-cost airline in Austria under the subsidiary brand “Level”.

First, 14 destinations – mostly holiday destinations – are served in Europe. “Level” has an Austrian license and four aircraft stationed in Vienna. “We came to stay and grow,” said General Manager Operations Level, Frank Glander. There are already cooperations with all major tour operators. The goals of the first flights on 17 July were Palma de Mallorca and London Gatwick. Over the next four weeks, flights will be made to Barcelona, Malaga, Venice, Olbia, Ibiza, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Milan Malpensa, Dubrovnik, Larnaca, Alicante, Valencia and Bilbao. The launch of the new airline will initially create around 200 new jobs at the Vienna location, said IAG CEO Willie Walsh, who was present at Level’s presentation in Vienna. Airport board member Julian Jäger predicts a growth of six percent for Vienna Airport in 2018 – also thanks to “Level”. And also for 2019 one is optimistic. Level had attracted attention with a sensational marketing campaign. Via their homepage 50,000 tickets were sold for one cent each

After the bankruptcy of Air Berlin, IAG tried to buy the Austrian subsidiary flyniki, at that time through its subsidiary Vueling. Ultimately, however, Niki Lauda with his Laudamotion won the battle, and sold flyniki immediately to Ryanair. IAG is the parent company of British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, Aer Lingus and Level and has a stake of more than four percent in Norwegian.

Battleground Vienna

The number of new low-cost airlines from Vienna continues to rise. Vienna is referred to in the industry as a “battleground”. The pace is record breaking. New airlines are still coming into the gap, which tore the elimination of Niki Lauda’s budget airline Niki and its parent company Air Berlin into the timetable of Austrian airports last year. The Hungarian Wizz Air, for example, is planning 30 new routes to 22 countries within a year until 2019. In addition, there will be Niki Lauda’s new Laudamotion airline in cooperation with Europe’s leading low-cost airline Ryanair, Lufthansa subsidiary Eurowings and the IAG subsidiaries Vueling and Level. Easyjet, behind Ryanair Europe’s number two low-cost airline, is building on growth from Vienna.

However, this raises the question of how long the rise of low-cost carriers can go on. Basically, there is still plenty of room for improvement in the segment, says Thomas Haagensen, Europe’s Easyjet Manager. “This competition is good news for passengers, as the pressure on prices remains.” Easyjet offers half of its tickets under 50 euros. In addition, the point-to-point connections of low-cost airlines would provide for a much denser route network from Vienna. At the same time, Haagensen points to the continuing pressure for a market shakeout in the industry. Ultimately, the landscape is likely to converge with that of the US, where the four or five largest providers cover 75 percent of the market.

Will the chaff separate from the wheat?

This process has long been in progress in Europe. Even in the autumn, the chaff could separate from the wheat: When the peak season is over and revenues decline, airlines are paying more for their costs. So it is not surprising that the bankruptcies of Air Berlin, Niki or the British monarch fell in or around the fall. In addition, there is a trend towards a rising kerosene price. Although this is detrimental for all airlines, but takes in the low-cost airlines a percentage higher proportion of total costs. Larger airlines simply have more options to hedge against rising fuel prices on the forward market with previously fixed prices, says Haagensen. Incidentally, the Easyjet Europe boss does not see his airline involved in the current low-cost airline boom in Vienna. “We have been flying to Vienna for years, which makes sense for us because we also fly to larger central airports.” Moreover, Vienna was relatively thinly connected to central airports such as London. But unlike competitors, Easyjet will not set up another of its 30 hubs here. The focus is currently on Germany, especially Berlin. A total of around 200 million euros will be invested there. After the takeover of Slots Air Berlin Easyjet wants to fly in addition to the existing base in Schoenefeld with 25 aircraft from the airport Berlin-Tegel. With then around 15 million passengers, you would be number one from Berlin. There would also be a number of domestic routes and connections between Berlin and Vienna. Formally, Easyjet is also number one in Austria – measured by the number of aircraft registered in Austria. 112 aircraft were on the issue in Vienna issued AOC license “Easyjet Europe” on the way, more than the good 80 machines from Top Dog Austrian Airlines. The majority of the total of 300 aircraft Easyjet fleet is traveling in the UK.

Sources: Salzburger Nachrichten, APA

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