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Moving into the regions

 

Whilst its is true that Europe’s major airports are getting busier and busier, it is also undeniable that regional airports across Europe are not only growing in passenger numbers but also in their attraction to travellers who appreciate their convenience and simplicity. Getting to London Heathrow or Paris CDG Airports for example is not only stressful if you are having to drive on congested roads at peak times, but its also expensive when you start to factor in aspects such as car parking. Also, the total travel time is a measure often used these days by travel bookers if not travellers themselves and the total travel time is increased significantly when you travel to or from major hub airports. Getting from your car which is parked in an expensively priced car park to your car check in desk or returning from arrivals back to your expensively priced car park is time consuming to say the least and can add on thirty minutes to a journey easily. What’s worse, the time spent waiting for your baggage seems also to be getting longer and longer these days with the waiting time at the baggage carousel at London Heathrow being calculated at 29 minutes 29 seconds!  It comes to the point whereby the actual  time in the air is possibly less than the time it takes you to get off the plane, collect your bags and get to you car! It’s certainly less than the time spent waiting to depart after check in and security hassles, plus the aforementioned waits at the arrival end. It’s therefore easy to see why more and more people prefer the simplicity of regional airports both from a reduced stress factor perspective as well as possibly a cost perspective.

It might also be true that some airlines have been smarter than others in spotting this preference or trend towards regional airports. If we look at Germany then we see that national carrier Lufthansa has taken a battering in routes that connect east. Turkish Airline for example fly to fourteen airports across Germany which is double the number of airports served by Lufthansa and sister airline Germanwings combined. Also in Germany, Lufthansa operates to Dubai – one of the main connecting hubs for all points eastwards – from just two airports whilst rival Emirates fly’s to four cities. In the UK, British Airways is often referred to as London Airways as it only serves the London area with international flights whilst European rival KLM operates over 440 flights a week to over 20 regional airports across Britain to its hub in Amsterdam!

The bottom line is that it’s a downward spiral for accountancy inspired decisions by airlines that focus its operations on one or two main national airports. Yes, costs are reduced but at the end of the day if you have no passengers or are losing them to your arrivals then reducing your costs is hardly the answer is it. If you have the passengers you can then make money from them; if you don’t have them then its unlikely you will be surviving very long. The accountants meanwhile will have moved on to their next place of employment.   

 

Mark Thomas

Managing Director

HRG Bulgaria