Fading Memories: Air Berlin is gone. But airlines in Germany and elsewhere are quickly filling the vacuum.
Next month will mark one year since Air Berlin declared itself bankrupt. October will mark one year since the airline stopped flying. How much has its departure changed Europe’s competitive landscape?
In Germany, a lot. Of Europe’s 30 busiest airports, only three show y/y traffic declines this year through May, according to Airports Council International. All three are in Germany. And all three were major Air Berlin markets. Berlin Tegel is one of these. Düsseldorf is another. And the third is Hamburg.
At Tegel, passenger volumes are down a full 8% from last year’s levels, exclusively due to Air Berlin’s lost capacity. The airline was, after all, Tegel’s busiest airline by far, while Tegel was Air Berlin’s busiest airport. At Düsseldorf, meanwhile, which was Air Berlin’s second busiest airport, traffic trends this year are even sicklier—volumes are down 9%. Düsseldorf likewise hasn’t recovered from the collapse of its busiest carrier, which incidentally caused Cathay Pacific to leave the market—it relied on its oneworld partner Air Berlin for traffic feed.
Contrast this with Frankfurt, where Air Berlin was never much of a player. Traffic there through May was up a bustling 9%. Munich, Germany’s second busiest airline market, is growing at a 2% clip—this was Air Berlin’s third busiest airport, but Air Berlin was considerably less important to Munich than to either Berlin or Düsseldorf, or even to the smaller Hamburg market, which was down 1%. Munich, as it happens, also lost Air France/KLM’s LCC Transavia when it closed its base there. Other German airports where Air Berlin had a notable but modest overall presence include Stuttgart—traffic there this year is up 8%—and Cologne, up 5%.
The story, though, is far from over. Traffic stats beyond May have yet to be published, but Diio Mi schedule data show that by year’s end, even Berlin and Düsseldorf will be busier than they were when Air Berlin was around. Airlines haven’t yet filled the Air Berlin vacuum, in other words, but they likely will soon.
In the current peak summer quarter at Tegel, seat counts are up 8% y/y compared to down 3% in the just-completed second quarter. Ryanair is flying from the airport for the first time, albeit with just one route to Spain. Icelandair, Aigle Azur…
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