Europe celebrates its 37th low-cost airline still flying. out of 116 which startedSee Graveyard here 32% survived!
Flights within Ireland and from Ireland to England, Channel Islands, France, Scotland
Air Baltic -LATVIA -LITHUANIA Air Baltic ALL destinations
Flights between home bases Riga (Latvia), Vilnius (Lithuania) and Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Rep. Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine
Air Berlin -GERMANY Air Berlin ALL destinations Number 3 Low Cost Airline in Europe
Flights within Germany, from Germany to most European countries and to Algeria, Canada, China, Cuba, Dom.Rep. Egypt, Irag, Israel, Jamaica, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, South africa, Thailand, Tunisia, USA, U.A.E.
Air Southwest -ENGLAND WARNING: STOP BUYING TICKETS. Air Southwest ALL destinations
Flights within England (home base) and Channel Islands, Ireland, Scotland
ArkeFly -NETHERLANDS ArkeFly ALL destinations
Flights from The Netherlands to European destinations and Aruba, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Cuba, Dom.Rep. Egypt, Gambia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, Tunisia
BelleAir -ALBANIA Very slow loading home page
Flights from Albania to Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Macedonia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Blue1 -FINLAND No list of destinations available. See website
Flights within Finland and from Finland (home base Helsinki) to many destinations in Europe
Blue Air -ROMANIA No list of destinations available. See website
Flights between Romania (home base) and many destinations in Europe
Blu-Express -ITALY Blu-Express ALL destinations
Flights within Italy and Italy (home base Rome) to Cuba, France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Thailand, Turkey
British European -ENGLAND British European ALL destinations
Flights within England and between England and many destinations in Europe
Cimber Sterling -DENMARK Cimber Sterling ALL destinations
Flights within Denmark and from Denmark to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Rep. England, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey
City Jet -ENGLAND City Jet ALL destinations
Flights between England (home base London City Airport) and Belgium, Channel Islands, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Scotland
Condor -GERMANY No list of destinations available. See website
Flights from Germany to most European countries
Flights between Netherlands and Bulgaria, Egypt, Greece, Turkey
Danube Wings -SLOVAKIA No list of destinations available. See website
Flights from Slovakia (home base Bratislava) to Austria, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland
Darwin Airline -SWITZERLAND
Flights between Switzerland (home base Geneva) and Czech Republic, France, Italy, Kosovo, Serbia, Spain
EasyJet -ENGLAND EasyJet ALL destinations Number 2 Low Cost Airline in Europe
Flights between England (home base London) and most countries in Europe
First Choice -ENGLAND First Choice ALL destinations
Flights between England (home base) to many European destinations and to Aruba, Cape Verde, Cuba, Dom.Rep. Egypt, Jamaica, Kenya, Maldives, Mexico, USA (FL)
German Wings -GERMANY No list of destinations available. See website
Flights within Germany and from Germany to most countries in Europe
Helvetic Airways -SWITZERLAND Helvetic Airways ALL destinations
Flights from Switzerland (home base Zurich) to Croatia, Germany, Italy
Iceland Express -ICELAND Iceland Express ALL destinations
Flights from Iceland to Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA
InterSky -GERMANY InterSky ALL destinations
Flights with Germany (home base Friedrichshafen) and from Germany to Austria, Croatia, France, Italy, Switzerland
Itali Airlines -ITALY Very slow loading home page Itali Airlines ALL destinations
Flights within Italy
Flights from England and Scotland to many countries in Europe
Flights within Italy (home base Florence) and from Italy to England, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain
Flights between England (home base London-Luton) and Gibraltar, Portugal, Spain
Flights within Norway (home base) and from Norway to England, Portugal, Spain
Pegasus Airlines -TURKEY
Flights within Turkey and Turkey - Germany v.v.
RyanAir -ENGLAND WARNING: STOP BUYING TICKETS - EUROPE'S UNSAFEST (LOW-COST) AIRLINE! RyanAir ALL destinations
Flights between England (home base London-Stansted) and Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Sweden
Flights between Sweden (home base) and Bosnia, Croatia
Smart Wings -CZECH REPUBLIC
Flights between Czech Republic (home base Prague) and Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland
Sun Express -TURKEY
Flights between Turkey (home base Antalya) and Austria, Egypt, Germany, Iraq, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden
Flights between England (home base Coventry) and France, Italy, Jersey, Spain
Transavia -NETHERLANDS Fake low-cost by KLM? Read here
Flights between Netherlands (home base Amsterdam) and Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden
Flights between Spain (home base) and Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy
Vueling Airlines -SPAIN
Flights within Spain (home base) and from Spain to Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Gambia (Africa), Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Wizz Air -HUNGARY
Flights from Hungary (home base Budapest) to Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Low cost airlines are the air carriers whose main goal is to provide cheap and safe transport of passengers to a specific destination. To lower flight prices, those airlines cut their costs by sacrificing every luxury except for flight safety.
This means there is no business class on the airplane, no audio or video technics, one has to pay extra for food or drinks on-board, and airplane tickets are sold exclusively online. Low cost carriers tend to avoid big and costly airports and are mainly oriented to alternative ones due to considerably lower fees.
This revolutionary concept has made the air travel affordable to many, and consequently the number of low cost companies grows each year. In London there currently are 29 low cost airlines operating, in Rome 20, and in Prague 14.
For some time now Serbia is also on the map of low cost airlines. The abolition of visas to the so-called Schengen zone countries has greatly contributed to that. Shortly after putting Serbia on the White Schengen List, low cost airline Fly Niki has requested and got the permission to perform air transport in Serbia.
Besides Wizzair, Germanwings, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Fly Dubai, Pegasus and Aegean are also flying from Belgrade.
These companies operate from two airports in the country. In Belgrade, they use "Nikola Tesla" airport used for civil air transport, while in Nis, "Constantine the Great", also airport for civil air traffic.
The market of low cost airlines however requires alternative airports to lower the fare. Serbia is expected to soon adapt a military airport in Belgrade's Batajnica for civil traffic. This will allow passengers fly at lower prices because the airport tax for "Batajnica" would be significantly lower than the one for "Nikola Tesla".
The list of low cost airlines flying from Serbia is also expected to grow in the coming years.
A number of low cost airlines have stirred up air travel within Europe by radically cutting fares in exchange for eliminating many traditional passenger services. A Ryanair flight from Hahn, Germany, to London Stansted can cost as little as €50.
The low fare concept originated in the United States before spreading to Europe in the early 1990s. The most notable successes here are Ireland's Ryanair, which began low-fares operations in 1991, and easyJet, formed in 1995.
The cheapies save money in a number of ways. They eliminate free onboard meals, charging for them instead. They fly to cheaper, less-congested secondary airports. They emphasize short flights, fast turnaround and maximum utilization of aircraft. They're tough on excess baggage. A few extra kilograms can double the cost of your flight.
They emphasize direct sale of tickets, especially over the internet, avoiding travel agent fees. They have only one passenger class, and don't bother with First or Business class. Nor do they bother with Frequent Flier miles. They even give employees multiple tasks. Flight attendants may also clean the cabin or act as gate agents.
In order to compete with these cheapies, main carriers have cut their fares on competing routes. Sometimes they are only 20 percent more expensive than discount airlines, and that could mean that the total trip cost may be the same, or even cheaper, with the main carriers. Don't forget the cost, and inconvenience, of getting to those out-of-the-way airports.
Ryanair was the first European low fare airline, and it is still the largest. It has a hub at the former US air base at Hahn, Germany, and its largest operational bases are at Dublin International and London Stansted Airports. Each year it carries some 60 million passengers in 195 aircraft on more than 800 routes across 26 European countries. (www.ryanair.com )
EasyJet, based at London's Luton Airport, is Europe's second biggest low cost carrier, after Ryanair. In contrast to Ryanair it flies mainly to the leading airports, a strategy that attracts business travelers. It has hubs in three London airports (Gatwick, Stansted and Luton) and two in Paris (Charles de Gaulle and Orly). Other hubs are Berlin, Liverpool and Bristol, and it flies from these to 103 airports, mainly in Europe. (www.easyJet.com )
Germanwings, now fully owned by Lufthansa, has its main base at the Cologne-Bonn Airport, with secondary bases at the Stuttgart, Berlin-Schönefeld, Hamburg and Dortmund Airports. It has 26 Aibuses and flies to some 70 airports in Eastern and Western Europe. (www.germanwings.com )
Air Berlin started as an American-operated charter airline back in the days when only the World War II victors could serve Berlin. Now it has grown to be Germany's second biggest airline, after Lufthansa. Today its fleet extends to 136 aircraft flying to more than 130 destinations within Germany, Europe and throughout the world. Its main base is at Berlin-Tegel Airport, with hubs at Nürnberg, Düsseldorf and Palma de Mallorca, (www.airberlin.com )
TUIfly, with 45 aircraft, is the third largest German airline, after Lufthansa and Air Berlin. Headquartered at the Hannover Airport, it operates services mainly to European holiday resorts and carries more than 12.5 million passengers a year to 80 destinatins in 17 countries. It serves many German airports, even smaller ones. (www.tuifly.com/en )
Condor, owned by one of the world's leading travel agencies, Thomas Cook, is unique in that it also offers long stretch flights at low prices. You can fly to America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia for as little as €279. It connects 25 airports inside of Germany. (www.condor.de )
There are very many other low cost airlines and more are being established with regularity. Here are some others: AirBaltic, Austrian-Airlines, Blue1, BMI Baby, Lot, Dauair, Helvetic, Intersky, SkyEurope, SmartWings, Transavia, VLM, Brussels Airlines and Wizz Air.
SIR FREDDIE LAKER, the pioneer of cheap “no frills” transatlantic flights in the 1970s (pictured), could not make his ventures succeed. But he did inspire the low-cost carriers that have brought affordable air travel to the masses over the past 15 years or so. Ryanair of Ireland is now the world’s biggest international airline by passenger numbers, carrying 81m people last year. Budget airlines round the world, from Southwest in the United States to AirAsia in Malaysia, have succeeded where Laker failed by sticking to shorter routes.
Subsequent attempts to apply the low-cost model to long-haul routes have flopped as badly as Laker. Oasis Hong Kong Airlines went into liquidation in 2008, a year after starting cheap long-haul flights to London and Vancouver. More recently, AirAsia’s sister airline for longer flights, AirAsia X, abandoned its attempts to run budget flights to Europe. The incumbent full-service airlines have lost much of their short-haul business (flights of up to three hours or so) to the low-cost carriers, but they continue to dominate the skies on the longest routes.
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However, a number of airlines in Asia, AirAsia X among them, have continued to test the limits of how far the no-frills model will travel. Scoot, an affiliate of Singapore Airlines, offers cut-price direct flights between Singapore and Tianjin in northern China that take around six hours, more or less the boundary between medium- and long-haul (there is no official definition).
Now, a fresh attempt to undercut the incumbents on long-haul routes is beginning. Norwegian Air Shuttle, a low-cost carrier that has been expanding rapidly across Europe, has begun flying across the Atlantic and to Thailand. Next March Wow Air, an Icelandic carrier, will start flights on routes such as Boston to London, via Reykjavik, with introductory prices as low as $99 one way.
In Laker’s day, the fuel burned by long-haul planes made up a large proportion of the cost of operating the flights. That made it hard for budget carriers to find enough cost savings elsewhere to cut prices sufficiently to tempt flyers to switch from carriers offering more comforts.
This is now changing, with the launches of some new and far more fuel-efficient planes: Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, already in the air, Airbus’s A350, which will start flying within weeks, and a revamped version of Airbus’s A330, coming in 2019. Ryanair’s boss, Michael O’Leary, recently reiterated a promise that he would eventually sell transatlantic flights from as little as €10 ($13) one-way and with average return fares of around €200-300. The full-service airlines will also be ordering these new planes, but their cost disadvantage compared with the nimble budget carriers (because of such things as their legacy pension schemes and labour agreements) will become more stark.
In recent years mergers and alliances between full-service airlines have made some of the most popular long-haul routes, such as across the Atlantic, a cosy oligopoly. The big legacy carriers have begun to improve their chronically dismal financial performance. Now, not only do they face a rising threat on intercontinental routes from the three Gulf “superconnector” airlines—Emirates, Etihad and Qatar—but soon they may suffer the same pitiless competition from the likes of Ryanair and Norwegian that they get on shorter routes.
This is why Norwegian is having such trouble getting permission to expand its transatlantic flights through a subsidiary registered in Ireland. For months, regulators in America have held up Norwegian’s permits on spurious safety grounds, under pressure from the country’s big airlines and pilots’ unions. European Union officials pressed the Irish subsidiary’s case at a meeting with American counterparts on November 25th.
Norwegian’s boss, Bjorn Kjos, has been able to apply to his long-haul venture many of the cost-saving tricks that have helped his short-haul business grow so quickly. Norwegian crams more seats into its 787s: 291, compared with around 250 in more common configurations. It works them hard: by scheduling back-to-back flights across the Atlantic and to Bangkok it keeps them flying 17-18 hours a day compared with a maximum of 15 hours at many full-service rivals. Where possible, as it does in short-haul, Norwegian flies to secondary airports with lower fees.
What is helping Norwegian establish a foothold in the transatlantic market is that, unlike some full-service airlines that are still flying older planes, he already has a fleet of seven 787s. Mr Kjos says he can achieve an operating cost per seat, per kilometre travelled, that is 20% cheaper than they can. That goes a long way to selling tickets which he claims are around 40% cheaper than the competition.
However, there are some things that budget airlines find harder in long-haul than on short routes. The combination of long routes, time differences and airports’ night curfews can make it harder to turn planes around quickly. Overnight layovers mean paying for crews’ bed and board.
Selling enough tickets to fill a medium-sized “widebody” plane like the 787 several times a week, and thus to run a reasonably frequent service, is a lot harder than filling the smaller “narrowbodies” the budget airlines typically use on short routes. The older carriers still have enough of a short-haul business for this to feed connecting passengers on to long-haul flights. Norwegian can do some of this too, but the problem may be going away, as ever more passengers “self-connect” by booking each leg of a trip separately online. Some airports, such as Malpensa in Milan and Gatwick in London, have begun to make this easier, by arranging for connecting passengers’ bags to be transferred from one flight to another, even when they are switching to a different airline.
In all there are a number of reasons why passengers should be able to look forward to flying longer for less. However, Ryanair’s Mr O’Leary is uncharacteristically cautious about whether long-haul, low-cost’s moment has finally arrived. For a start, he thinks his Viking counterpart, Mr Kjos, has erred in not offering business-class seats on his longer flights. The full-service airlines make most of their profits on business seats, and Mr O’Leary thinks even ruthless cost-cutters like his own airline will need to offer some in order to make long-haul routes pay.
Furthermore, says Mr O’Leary, business travellers expect flexibility, and will want one or two flights a day to the main destinations. So, he reckons, a fleet of 30-50 of the new, efficient planes will be needed. Boeing and Airbus are working flat out and have a long waiting list. Mr O’Leary thinks it may be four to five years before he has received enough of the new planes to launch his attack on the long-haul market.
So the older, high-cost airlines have a little breathing-room, for now. But in three years or so the two big manufacturers will start delivering a further set of highly efficient planes: revamped versions of Boeing’s 737 and Airbus’s A320, the narrowbody craft that the low-cost airlines already use on their short routes. What is different is that each will come with long-range versions capable of crossing the Atlantic and, in Boeing’s case, flying from London to Delhi. These smaller planes will be far easier to fill and much cheaper to run. When the skies are filled with swarms of them, fares should hit rock-bottom and Laker’s dream may finally come true.