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The geography of European low-cost airline networks: a contemporary analysis

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  • Dobruszkes, Frédéric

Abstract

Low-cost airlines (LCAs) have become essential actors supplying nationwide and continental air services. This paper focuses on the European case and investigates how the LCA spatial strategy has evolved since the last available comprehensive analysis in 2004. Using comprehensive data, the analysis is conducted at three levels: global, cities and networks. It shows that LCAs now represent 31% of intra-European airline seats. Although LCA business has expanded to Central-East Europe, Morocco, and a few remote areas, it remains mainly focused on the intra-Western market. In general, LCAs serve large cities and tourist destinations. The use of secondary, regional airports is put into perspective. Service volatility is low at the city level but significant at the inter-city level. Average distance has increased, but most flights are short-haul. LCAs play an important role in launching new routes, thus diversifying the European airline network, and in increasing frontal competition with traditional airlines on pre-existing routes. The niche markets are common in terms of routes but are rather limited in terms of seats supplied. Actually, the main specificity of the largest LCAs is the provision of flights that do not serve the home country. A typology of networks demonstrates that there is no a single European low-cost model.

Suggested Citation

  • Dobruszkes, Frédéric, 2013. "The geography of European low-cost airline networks: a contemporary analysis," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 75-88.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jotrge:v:28:y:2013:i:c:p:75-88
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2012.10.012
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