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UK airports see surge from Eastern Europe LCCs

Growth in Eastern European low cost carriers (LCC) is continuing to surge, according to a report from aviation data specialists OAG.

The report, Eastern Europe – low cost and loving it, showed in February 2016 there was a 14 per cent year-on-year increase in Eastern European LCC seats, amounting to 32,500 more between Poland and the UK.

The report showed more than half of this UK capacity growth is to Stansted and Luton from regional airports across Poland as well as strong growth to Bristol and Birmingham airports.

Poland’s LCCs generated a third of all seats in the region including an increase of more than 100,000 seats in February compared to the same period the previous year.

Poland is the largest of the Eastern European air transport markets with the main players, Ryanair, LOT and Wizz Air, occupying 28 per cent, 25 per cent and 20 per cent of the market, respectively.

John Grant, senior analyst, OAG, said: “While the Eastern European market shows strong growth, there is still room to grow further.

“Ryanair and Wizz Air have consistently been penetrating the Eastern European market, squeezing competitors out of the way.”

Grant added: “Both airlines share a similar pattern of growth; if they were to ever combine, collectively, they would operate 13 per cent of intra-European capacity taking the number one spot in five countries and number two spot in another five countries.”

The OAG study also found that Eastern Europe’s airline capacity has shown an “impressive upward growth” of 8 per cent for the month of February between 2009 and 2014. This continues to be the trend for February 2015 and 2016 as the report reveals an increase of 9 per cent for the month each year.

OAG said the LCC market is a “key driver” of capacity growth in February 2016 within the five largest Eastern European markets, with Hungary reporting a 60 per cent share, Poland 54, Romania 52 per cent, and Bulgaria and Czech Republic both with a 34 per cent share each.

Poland’s seats to and from each market is also significantly higher than the other four countries with 1,266,388 in February 2016 – up from 858,076 in February 2010.

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