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


  • Frédéric Dobruszkes


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 hasevolved since the last available comprehensive analysis in 2004. Using comprehensive data, the analysisis conducted at three levels: global, cities and networks. It shows that LCAs now represent 31% ofintra-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 servelarge cities and tourist destinations. The use of secondary, regional airports is put into perspective. Servicevolatility is low at the city level but significant at the inter-city level. Average distance hasincreased, but most flights are short-haul. LCAs play an important role in launching new routes, thusdiversifying the European airline network, and in increasing frontal competition with traditional airlineson pre-existing routes. The niche markets are common in terms of routes but are rather limitedin terms of seats supplied. Actually, the main specificity of the largest LCAs is the provision of flightsthat do not serve the home country. A typology of networks demonstrates that there is no a singleEuropean low-cost model.

Suggested Citation

  • Frédéric Dobruszkes, 2013. "The geography of European low-cost airline networks: A contemporary analysis," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/135954, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:ulb:ulbeco:2013/135954

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    Cited by:

    1. Cattaneo, Mattia & Malighetti, Paolo & Paleari, Stefano & Redondi, Renato, 2016. "The role of the air transport service in interregional long-distance students’ mobility in Italy," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 66-82.
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    3. Malighetti, Paolo & Paleari, Stefano & Redondi, Renato, 2016. "Base abandonments by low-cost carriers," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 234-244.
    4. Fageda, Xavier & Suau-Sanchez, Pere & Mason, Keith J., 2015. "The evolving low-cost business model: Network implications of fare bundling and connecting flights in Europe," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 289-296.
    5. Delaplace, Marie & Dobruszkes, Frédéric, 2015. "From low-cost airlines to low-cost high-speed rail? The French case," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 73-85.
    6. Iwanicki Grzegorz & Dłużewska Anna, 2015. "Potential of city break clubbing tourism in Wrocław," Bulletin of Geography. Socio-economic Series, De Gruyter Open, vol. 28(28), pages 77-89, June.
    7. repec:eee:jaitra:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:119-125 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Jiang, Yonglei & Yao, Baozhen & Wang, Lu & Feng, Tao & Kong, Lu, 2017. "Evolution trends of the network structure of Spring Airlines in China: A temporal and spatial analysis," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 18-30.
    9. repec:eee:touman:v:62:y:2017:i:c:p:54-64 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Allroggen, Florian & Malina, Robert & Lenz, Ann-Katrin, 2013. "Which factors impact on the presence of incentives for route and traffic development? Econometric evidence from European airports," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 49-61.
    11. repec:eee:jaitra:v:64:y:2017:i:pa:p:68-76 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. repec:eee:touman:v:59:y:2017:i:c:p:449-466 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Lohmann, Gui & Vianna, Camila, 2016. "Air route suspension: The role of stakeholder engagement and aviation and non-aviation factors," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 199-210.
    14. Dobruszkes, Frédéric & Mondou, Véronique, 2013. "Aviation liberalization as a means to promote international tourism: The EU–Morocco case," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 23-34.
    15. Dobruszkes, Frédéric & Givoni, Moshe & Vowles, Timothy, 2017. "Hello major airports, goodbye regional airports? Recent changes in European and US low-cost airline airport choice," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 50-62.
    16. de Wit, Jaap G., 2014. "Unlevel playing field? Ah yes, you mean protectionism," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 22-29.
    17. Dobruszkes, Frédéric & Dehon, Catherine & Givoni, Moshe, 2014. "Does European high-speed rail affect the current level of air services? An EU-wide analysis," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 461-475.
    18. Tomasz Stanisław Szopiński & Robert Nowacki, 2014. "Plane Ticket Price Dispersion in the Online Selling System in Poland," Contemporary Economics, University of Finance and Management in Warsaw, vol. 8(2), June.
    19. Dudás, Gábor & Boros, Lajos & Pál, Viktor & Pernyész, Péter, 2016. "Analysis of the lowest airfares considering the different business models of airlines, the case of Budapest," MPRA Paper 74502, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Allroggen, Florian & Wittman, Michael D. & Malina, Robert, 2015. "How air transport connects the world – A new metric of air connectivity and its evolution between 1990 and 2012," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 184-201.
    21. Calzada, Joan & Fageda, Xavier, 2014. "Competition and public service obligations in European aviation markets," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 104-116.
    22. Mattia Cattaneo & Paolo Malighetti & Stefano Paleari & Renato Redondi, 2015. "Evolution of long distance students? mobility: the role of transport infrastructures in Italy," ERSA conference papers ersa15p1231, European Regional Science Association.
    23. Burghouwt, Guillaume & de Wit, Jaap G., 2015. "In the wake of liberalisation: long-term developments in the EU air transport market," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 104-113.
    24. repec:eee:transa:v:107:y:2018:i:c:p:246-256 is not listed on IDEAS
    25. repec:eee:transa:v:106:y:2017:i:c:p:116-129 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Low-cost airlines; Low-fare airlines; No-frills airlines; Air transport; Airline networks; Europe;

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