The Impact of Open Skies on Air Traffic in EU-US
The number of direct routes between the U.S. and Western Europe has grown 40% since 2010, according to an analysis by Sydney-based Centre for Aviation.
Centre for Aviation credited the 2008 EU-U.S. open-skies agreement for the net increase of 88 Western Europe-U.S. city pairs over the past six years.
“Certainly the U.S. is a large country, but the Western Europe-U.S. total of 310 is more than the 260 for the whole of Asia Pacific, the 256 for Latin America and the 191 for sub-Saharan Africa,” the report says.
The increase has not been steady, however. The number of city pairs between the U.S. and EU dropped from 252 in 2008 to 222 in 2010. Centre for Aviation analysts concluded that the positive impact of the liberalized air agreement was disrupted during that period by the global economic recession that began in late 2008.
Since 2010, growth in Western Europe-U.S. routes has accelerated with time. Sixty-nine of the 88 routes have been added since 2013, due in large part to the emergence of transatlantic low-cost carriers Norwegian and Wow.
The growth in city-pair connections to the U.S. has been dominated by the U.K. and Germany, with the U.K. gaining 23 routes between 2010 and 2016 and Germany gaining 13. Growth at British Airways and Virgin Atlantic boosted the U.K. numbers while international expansion for Air Berlin and the emergence of the Lufthansa-owned low-cost-carrier Eurowings contributed to Germany-U.S. route growth.
Nine small countries (Ireland, Iceland, Portugal, Denmark, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Austria and Finland) accounted for a net gain of 46 routes. The emergence of Norwegian and Wow, as well as growth at Icelandair, Aer Lingus and SAS bolstered U.S. connectivity.
Conversely, 2010 to 2016 saw a net gain of just six routes to France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland combined.
That’s no coincidence, Centre for Aviation analysts said, since the Air France-KLM airline group has had slow capacity growth.