Europe’s LCC’s set for major growth in 2018

You simply won’t be able to avoid Eurowings in 2018. With a €1 billion budget to lease and buy aircraft, hire pilots and cabin crew and ground staff in 29 new locations across the continent, it can’t find aircraft fast enough.

Air Europa 738’s, Czech A320’s and Adria’s A319’s will all be wet leased to operate Eurowings flights until its own aircraft can be purchased or leased.

Lufthansa is making sure that Eurowings isn’t left to wither on the vine like AF-KLM’s Transavia, which has failed miserably to gain traction.

Air France meanwhile are distracted by their strangely unfocused Joon brand, which is neither low cost in the true sense of the concept, yet provides an entry level approach to engage passengers to step up to Air France. Most of the industry is looking at it and scratching its collective head, while wondering how long it will last.

easyJet is embarking on massive expansion, changing out of its 30 A319’s for A320’s is almost complete, it’s adding at least 28 A320neo and another 20ceo in the next year, taking it to more than 300 aircraft, and will start putting A321neo into service mid year. The airline expects to go from 80 to 90 million passengers in just 12 months, much of which will be driven from its new Berlin-Tegel operations.

easyJet continues to expand its Vienna based operation as it prepares for the potential harsh jolt of Brexit. Expect other airlines based in the U.K. with big European footholds to start doing the same.

Ryan Air is having possibly the worst time in its history, not in terms of loss of business, but in terms of having to finally face that treating your staff as merely operational fodder who should be grateful for a job has had its day.

Forced to accept and recognise unions in its U.K./Ireland and German pilots operations, with cabin crew and other staff not far behind, came after years of taking liberties and making staff feel less than valued.

The thing is Ryan Air can afford to to make its environment a better place and staff know it. It seems the company, very reluctantly sees it too. They won’t make it easy. Ryan Air though will continue to expand.

WizzAir is continuing its push to fly in Eastern Europe, but its big effort is focussed on driving westward, expanding in the U.K. at Luton and aiming to force its way into other markets as it sees an opening.

The big areas of expansion next year will come in Italy where sooner or later the sale of Alitalia in April will be finalised. Expect Lufthansa to buy up the long haul arm and it’s anyone’s guess who will get the slots and aircraft from short haul. Domestic airlines are making a comeback, Meridiana and others look set to put up a fight with their foreign backers money. Domestic North-South air travel in Italy is a big business, the countries length and lack of rail links makes it far more viable than most states.

Vueling, powered by IAG money, will be looking to push further east and north into Europe, and Italy is one of its must have focus points.

2018 will see some of the most dynamic and vicious low cost warfare anywhere in the world as they gear up to acquire and maintain their market share, on a continent far from saturated as yet.