Fast-expanding European low-fare airline, Norwegian, is to introduce flights on three routes from Spain from Birmingham from summer 2015. The carrier has revealed plans to introduce its first flights to the UK city from Barcelona, Madrid and Malaga, with the link from Spain’s capital city a brand new destination from Birmingham.
Norwegian will makes its debut at Birmingham at the end of March 2015 with a three times weekly service from Malaga commencing on March 30, 2015 and a three times weekly route to Madrid following from March 31, 2015. The third route to Barcelona will follow from June 1, 2015 and will be flown on a twice weekly basis.
Although Norwegian is new to the Midlands market it has successfully developed at other destinations thanks to its low fares and efficient service which has been well received by consumers – both business and leisure. The new routes to Birmingham will all be flown by 186-seat Boeing 737-800s which are Wi-Fi enabled.
Norwegian will go head-to-head with Monarch Airlines and Ryanair on the Barcelona and Malaga routes and will bring the return of non-stop services to Madrid, a route last served by defunct Spanish carrier Spanair in 2010 and before that by bmibaby in 2008. It will also face competition from Vueling in the Barcelona - Birmingham market with the Spanish carrier launching a three times weekly service from June 1, 2015, increasing to four times weekly in August 2015.
According to MIDT data, just under an estimated 1.5 million bi-directional O&D passengers flew between Birmingham and destinations in Spain in 2013 with the largest flows being to the popular leisure getaways of Alicante and Malaga, Tenerife and Palma de Mallorca.
In our analysis, below, we look at O&D demand over the past ten years on the three new routes being served by Norwegian from next summer. During this period total demand between Birmingham and Spain has risen 75.5 per cent with the three markets generating flows of almost 3.5 million passengers – 2.6 million to and from Malaga, 645,000 to and from Barcelona and 215,000 to and from Madrid.
The data shows that the predominantly leisure-based Malaga route has seen notable fluctuations in demand as airlines have modified capacity on the route, but hit a high of over 340,000 bi-directional O&D passengers in 2005 when summer frequencies were exceeding 120 a month in each direction.
The Birmingham – Barcelona route has seen significant growth over the past couple of years thanks to the arrival of Ryanair on the route in November 2012, while the operation of non-stop flights between Birmingham and Madrid show the base demand for such a route with over 50,000 passengers flying on the city pair in 2008 when bmibaby served the market.
Flybe adds two new routes from Birmingham
Birmingham will also welcome two additional new routes from Flybe next summer with the low-fare carrier confirming the addition of weekly flights to Biarritz and Bastia (Corsica). This will also be the first summer of Flybe services to Berlin Tegel and it will offer increased frequency on its popular Amsterdam route with a choice of up to four flights a day.
Additionally, Flybe’s ski route to Chambery will extend through to April 2015 to accommodate Easter holiday travel and flights to regional France will be boosted with the return for peak summer travel of weekend services to Avignon, Brest and La Rochelle.
The airline confirms its full summer 2015 schedule from Birmingham is now open for reservation and will feature a total of 25 routes with a total choice of up to 336 flights a week. This suggests that a number of long-standing routes and those that the carrier introduced last year will not be continued into next year’s summer schedule, most notably Alicante, Cologne, Florence, Hamburg, Hanover, Oslo, Palma, Porto, Reykjavik and Toulouse.
The new services from Birmingham are among 16 new routes that Flybe will launch in summer 2015 which also comprise flights from London Stansted to Isle of Man, Newcastle and Newquay; from Southampton to Bastia (Corsica) and Milan Malpensa and the opening of a new Bournemouth base with links to Amsterdam, Biarritz, Deauville, Dublin, Glasgow, Jersey, Manchester, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Toulon.
In total, Flybe will operate across a network of 144 routes during the summer 2015 scheduke and offer up to 3,011 flights per week, including 12 winter routes that will also be served through the summer months. These comprise of Exeter – Newcastle; Inverness – Dublin; London City – Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Belfast City, Dublin, Exeter, Edinburgh and Inverness; London Southend – Dublin; Manchester – Amsterdam and its Flybe Shuttle service on the Jersey-Southampton-Leeds Bradford-Aberdeen route.
“Over the last twelve months we have continued to grow and develop the airline to provide the most cost-effective, efficient and flexible service for our passengers. Our 2015 Summer schedule boosts further the large selection of flights to great city and sun destinations,” said Paul Simmons, chief commercial officer, Flybe.
“We look forward to strengthening our presence on the South Coast with the opening our new operations at Bournemouth and of course starting to fly from London Stansted. The re-opening of our Aberdeen base is also another important landmark,” he added.