Liverpool Welcomes New Carriers & Routes

Lufthansa at Liverpool


Liverpool John Lennon Airport recorded 319,000 passengers in April. Helped by Easter falling that month, traffic was up from 225,000 in March, based on numbers obtained from Air Service One. Alas, it remains at just 72% of what was achieved in April 2019.

It had 51 passenger routes in April, aided by multiple introductions last year. These included Loganair to Derry and Ryanair to Beavaus, Rome Fiumicino, Sibiu, Stockholm Arlanda, Tallinn, and Vienna. Wizz Air started Chișinău too, and it’ll resume on May 9th, while others added last year – easyJet to Bournemouth, Wizz to Bourgas – haven’t continued.

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A look at 2022

So far in 2022, Wizz Air launched Tirana (adding to previous infrequent service), Ryanair Charleroi, and most significantly, Lufthansa – a brand-new airline for Liverpool – began Frankfurt. PLAY, another new carrier, will start Keflavik in October, a route never served regularly from Liverpool. But before that, June will see Ryanair to Zadar, easyJet to Heraklion and Izmir, and Blue Air resumes Bacău after a two-year absence.

In July, easyJet will add Kos (previously served by Ryanair) and Belfast City, the latter perhaps preempting the entry of the new Flybe.

Where could be next, and what is Liverpool targeting? I chatted with Paul Winfield, the airport’s Director of Aviation Development.

Liverpool’s scheduled network summer 2022. Its top ten routes are by seats for sale are Belfast International (BFS), Dublin (DUB), Palma (PMI), Isle of Man (IOM), Malaga (AGP), Amsterdam (AMS), Alicante (ALC), Faro (FAO), Barcelona (BCN), and Jersey (JER). Image: OAG.

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Greece, Turkey, the Canaries

“Liverpool is critically underserved on core markets to Greece, Turkey, and the Canary Islands,” Winfield told me.

According to OAG, nine destinations in those places are served this summer. The nine have 159,000 seats, led by Tenerife South, more than pre-coronavirus. But it’s only 5% of Liverpool’s capacity.

In contrast, nearby Manchester, which sees many millions of passengers leaked from Liverpool’s true catchment each year, has 27 destinations in these three places, with 4.3 million seats this summer. They have a whopping 23% share of Manchester’s total Europe capacity.

As you’d expect, it is easyJet and Ryanair that have corned this market from Liverpool. Winfield says that the first to focus more intensively on it “will benefit significantly.”

easyJet has 47% of Liverpool’s seats for sale this summer. Ryanair: 41%. Wizz Air: 9%. These three have 97% of Liverpool’s capacity. Photo: Dale Coleman via Wikimedia.

More hub service is targeted

Lufthansa launched Liverpool earlier this month. Winfield told me:

We remain confident there is an opportunity for growth in this area. Passengers from across the Northwest have a chance to use an airport with a seamless operation.

Lufthansa is crucial, he said, commenting that “the response on sales is very encouraging.” And Iceland’s PLAY will also be targeting US traffic alongside point-to-point demand. Flights connect in both ways to Baltimore, Boston, Stewart, and Orlando. I was recently on the first flight to Baltimore.

Winfield hopes that Amsterdam with KLM and Dublin with Aer Lingus will materialize as they’re “obvious.”

Both were served in the past two decades. Aer Lingus between October 2004 and June 2006, then again from October 2015-January 2017. (ATR-72s only operated from May 2016, jets before that.) KLM: March 2009-March 2012. Their return is undermined by Ryanair and easyJet’s strong presence – this summer, Dublin is Liverpool’s second-largest route and Amsterdam sixth – albeit focused on point-to-point demand.

3.2 million people live closer to Liverpool

An airport’s catchment area plays a vital role in its ultimate success. It explains the characteristics that drive demand (inbound and outbound) that generates passengers and, therefore, airline interest. Helped, of course, by route development teams and airport charges and incentives.

Catchment factors include population size, disposable income, the propensity to fly, the number of companies, how often and where they travel, core attractions, accessibility, etc.

Size is interesting. It can be measured in many ways, including time, and – perhaps fairest of all – those for whom an airport is closer. As Winfield said:

1.6 million people live in the Liverpool City Region. That rises to 3.2 million people in the Northwest and North Wales located closer to Liverpool than any other airport.

In one hour, there are seven million, obviously shared with Manchester. There’s no denying the impact Manchester has on Liverpool. But John Lennon is fighting back and is determined to grow and benefit from its core catchment strength.

What routes would you most like from Liverpool? Share them in the comments.

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About The Author

James Pearson
(785 Articles Published)

Route Development Analyst – James lives and breathes route development. Educated in Air Transport Management at Loughborough and Cranfield, James was Market Opportunity Analyst at London Luton Airport and Chief Analyst at anna.aero. Now writing data-driven analysis for Simple Flying. Based near London, UK.

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