Barcelona: Europe's new Low-Cost Long-Haul Hub.Direct Fights from U.S.A.
The beautiful Spanish city of Barcelona looks set to be the next battleground in the latest market trend in the aviation industry; Low-Cost Long-Haul.
- The Catalan capital has long been a major feature of cultural tourism; with its iconic Gaudi cathedral, one of the modernist architectural wonders of the world and the 1.2km tree-lined La Rambla Boulevard, one of the world's longest, and most chic, pedestrian shopping areas.
- Many tourists of all ages are attracted to Barcelona's trendy bars and restaurants, and it has become one of Europe's premier locations for weekend breaks. Plus the beaches of the Costa Brava are close by, Barcelona itself lies on the Mediterranean and has an attractive harbor area.
- Indeed, for the first time, Barcelona airport exceeded 40 million passengers in 2016, an incredible forty-four months of consecutive growth. This represents a 6.1% per month increase.
So which airlines are currently flying into Barcelona and from where ?.
- The largest carrier at Barcelona airport (with a massive 36% of the market) is International Airlines Group member, and budget airline, Vueling.Last year 15.9 million passengers arrived with Vueling (this represents 8% annual growth, healthy by any measure).
- With this kind of market share, Vueling dwarfs its competitors. But it is amongst the competitors that we see some rapid growth. Second in the league is Irish carrier Ryan Air with 6,784,000 passengers, but this is an impressive 19.1% growth, and third is Easyjet with 3,200,000 clients, but up 12.8%. However, it is our old friends at Norwegian who are shaking things up with passenger numbers up 53% (albeit from a small base of 1,546,000).
- One of the surprises is the collapse in market share of Spanish national carrier Iberia, from 26% to 5%. However, this fall can be accounted for by Iberia's being part of the I.A.G. Group and codesharing with its sister company Vueling.
- The number one route from Barcelona is London Gatwick. The current number one long-haul connection is Dubai. Flights to Berlin also recorded a significant increase in passenger numbers.
- However, it is Norwegians plans that are catching all the eyes and setting tongues wagging. Having only been operating from Barcelona for seven years, Norwegian will shortly commence long-haul operations to Los Angeles, Fort, Lauderdale, Oakland and New York Newark. There are currently no other West Coast services from Catalonia.
- The demand from the U.S.A for flights to Barcelona has increased by 17% in 2015-16 (or over 900,000 passengers).Atlanta was the fastest growing market up 43%. Over the past decade, U.S.-Barcelona traffic rose by 140 %. It is therefore not really surprising that Norwegian thinks it can make a success of this market.
- A particularly useful pointer is that a very high proportion of passengers from the U.S. connect with Barcelona via another European destination, rather than direct transatlantic flights (which generally means that they cannot get there any other way either through availability or price).One indicator of this is that American Airlines is running transatlantic routes at average occupancy rates of 83%.
- Strong rumors of a Barcelona-South American service also persist. I.A.G. (Vueling's parent company) are also launching low-cost long-haul this year (Los Angeles and San Francisco are among the likely destinations).
So things are looking good for Barcelona, but looking even better for passengers with the likelihood of falling airfares in a highly competitive market. U.S. tourists wil benefit significantly. At www.paylessflights.com we will have all these great flight deals.