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Traditional Carriers’ Seats Go Empty as Budget Airlines Take over More Market Share

Low-cost airlines are revolutionizing the way we travel and destroying the competition in the fight for seats.

New information released to Telegraph Travel by air travel analysts OAG confirm what many of us have long thought: that low-cost airlines are snapping up long-haul business and putting pressure on traditional airlines to perform. The figures from OAG compare winter travel this year to winter travel last year, tracking the total number of seats available per airline.

As usual, British Airways maintains the top spot for most seats available – the airline has 1.87 million seats this winter, up 1.1 percent from last year – but low-cost airlines are increasing capacity at a much quicker pace. Norwegian, for example, increased from 400,000 seats last year to about 860,000 this year. That’s an increase of 111 percent. WOW Air also grew by a much larger margin than British Airways, increasing capacity by 31.1 percent for this year.

The largest percentage change in traditional airlines was with Emirates, which added 50,000 seats this year, an increase of 58 percent. But largely all the other major airlines have low rates. Delta increased by 3.2 percent, Lufthansa by 2.9, and United by 2.6. And Virgin Atlantic has actually decreased its available seats by 3.2 percent, dropping from 803,000 to around 778,000.

Traditional airlines, though, are looking for ways to fight back against the low-cost increase. American Airlines, for example, removed first class from many international routes. British Airways cut some perks to save on cost at the expense of the airline’s customer happiness level. And both British Airways and Air France have launched low-cost carriers of their own in order to compete in that market.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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swm61230 December 21, 2017

What doesn't make sense with AA is that while they are cutting first class seats on many international routes they are also investing heavily on first class products on the ground. For instance the flagship dining for first class only. They just added this in lax and only have 3 flights a day that have international first. However they do have like 6 jfk flights a day that have access to it as well. So while they might be cutting first class I think they are also leaving the options and abilities open to restore that service as the demand and competition for those ultra premium seats intensifies.

weero December 20, 2017

Removing the First Class product sounds like the appropriate move to win those customers back from the LCCs .....