London remains the world’s largest city for low-cost carriers (LCC) but will see an increasing challenge from Asia which is seeing rapid growth, according to data from Amadeus.
The GDS and technology provider has released figures on the sector for the first half of 2013 which showed more than half of global growth is in Indonesia, India, Thailand and Malaysia.
The picture in Europe is more mixed with significant growth in the east (Warsaw up 63% for instance), but sharp declines elsewhere (Madrid down 27%).
London’s 15 million available low-cost seats kept it top of the pile and 1.5 times bigger than its nearest rival Sao Paolo.
However, Amadeus concluded: “The rates of growth occurring at Jakarta (44%) and Kuala Lumpur (15%) suggest the third and fourth placed cities may move up the top ten ranking over coming years.”
In the first half of 2013 low-cost seat capacity grew 6.8% globally on the same period last year, half of which came from Indonesia, India, Thailand and Malaysia combined.
Amadeus said its analysis paints a picture of strong capacity growth across Asia and the Middle East with only modest increases across Europe and North America.
Alexandre Jorre, LCC specialist at Amadeus, said: “We see a natural boom in LCC capacity across Asia, where point-to-point air travel is largely underserved.
“However, across the mature markets of Europe and North America capacity is constrained, which may explain why some LCCs are considering new approaches to secure future growth.
Low-cost carriers in Indonesia saw capacity rise by 12.3 million seats, in India capacity was up by three million seats, Thailand by two million seats and Malaysia 1.8 million seats
Asia showed the strongest growth rates of any region with a 28% overall increase to reach 129 million departing LCC seats.
Jakarta saw the strongest absolute LCC capacity growth of any capital, increasing by 2.8 million seats or 44%, closely followed by Bangkok, up 1.2 million seats or 30%.
Tokyo saw a significant increase in LCC seat capacity, suggesting the traditional focus on full service in that market could be changing, said Amadeus.
Behind Europe’s 0.8% LCC capacity growth was more complex picture.
In much of Southern Europe capacity has reduced, with Madrid seeing the largest fall of any capital city in the region and Athens and Rome also seeing significant percentage decreases.
However, in Eastern and northern Europe large increases were recorded.
Warsaw witnessed a 63% leap year-on-year, with low-cost flying now representing 27% of total departing capacity from the city. Istanbul and Copenhagen also saw LCC capacity increase sharply.
Amadeus, along with the other main GDSs, is working more closely with many low cost carriers as they seek to extend their reach beyond their domestic markets or into areas like business travel.
Jorre said: “With a 25% year on year rise over the first half of 2013, LCC bookings in Amadeus are growing significantly, which is a very encouraging sign that our ability to adapt to LCC distribution needs is proving attractive to both travel agents and airlines.
“LCCs are seizing the opportunity we offer to penetrate the high-yield business travel market and expand into new regions where they have limited brand presence.
“To maximize these benefits, we keep innovating, as demonstrated by the new range of light ticketing enhancements just implemented for easyJet, which keep it simple for LCCs and make it far more efficient for agents to book and service LCCs.”
Pascal Clement, head of travel intelligence at Amadeus, said: “Understanding how capacity trends are changing at a detailed level is fundamental to the planning process for both airlines and airports.
“Deploying effective data analysis tools that can seek meaning among huge volumes of data can give companies the edge.”
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