Aegean Follows Other European Carriers With New Passenger Traffic Record

It’s a new calendar year and airlines around the world are releasing their 2019 statistics. Aegean is one of the latest to report its numbers, hitting a new passenger record of 15 million. Numbers also show a 7% growth in total passenger traffic, up 11% from last year across the international network and 3% domestically. Aegean’s figures are in line with what most European carriers are seeing with their 2019 results.

Aegean had a 2019 load factor average of 84.8%. Photo: Simple Flying

By the numbers

Aegean’s 2019 numbers (shown in thousands) along with 2018 statistics for comparison. Photo: Aegean

The load factor was fairly healthy, up by nearly one percent from 83.9% in 2018 to 84.8% in 2019. Although not as high as Ryanair’s 96% figure, it is still above the worldwide commercial airline average of 82%.

The airline reports that the increase was seen across its main Athens hub (+11%) as well as its regional bases located in Thessaloniki, Heraklion, Chania, Rhodes, Kalamata (+ 8%). In fact, it is at these regional bases that growth is taking place at a significantly larger pace compared to the rest of the country. Shifting capacity growth away from Athens to other regional bases will be a strategy that continues into 2020 as well. The airline will launch 11 new routes this year.

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“We achieved an 11% growth in international traffic and a 7% overall for 2019 by expanding our capacity mainly at the beginning and end of the traditional tourist season. We will continue to invest in expanding the tourist season and by offering enhanced quality services for our customers as this is at quest for achieving both sustainable development and growth for the company, tourism industry and the country.” -Dimitris Gerogiannis, CEO of AEGEAN

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Aegean
Aegean will increase services to the Greek Islands. Photo: Aegean

Growth across Europe

Most European airlines saw gains in 2019, indicating that more people are flying in general (or flying more often). Here are some of the figures we’ve reported on in the last month:

While many airlines are reporting increases, Sweden’s Swedavia Airport company had a 9% drop in its domestic passenger traffic. Swedavia Airports operates several airports in the country. We suspect that some of this is due to the phenomenon of ‘flight shaming’, as travelers are discouraged from flying due to the carbon emissions it puts out. In fact, the Swedish government itself is taking steps to promote other forms of transport including reinstating sleeper trains for European crossings.

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Lufthansa saw passenger number increase by 2.3% in 2019. Photo: Getty Images

Conclusion

What the numbers fail to mention is profitability – which we will have better insight into once airline financials are released later this year. Growth in passenger numbers does not necessarily equate to more profit as it may not take in to account new aircraft deliveries and the fact that capacity growth has costs of its own. Aegean itself will take on six new Airbus A320neo aircraft in 2020.

Load-factor should give a better idea of airline health although this can also be misleading as low pricing might fill seats with little or no profit.

It will be interesting to see how these airlines do with their finances and if their growth in passengers equates to a healthier financial picture.

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