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SAS A320neo (photo: SAS)

SAS to drop out of Europe top 10

Wizz Air has pushed past SAS into ninth place in a new list of Europe’s top 20 airline groups, with another carrier close behind.

With the second fastest growth among Europe’s largest airline groups by passenger numbers, up by 19.6% to 34 million, Wizz Air has leaped ahead of SAS into ninth place, the Centre for Aviation reports in its latest traffic figures.

The Scandinavian airline is now in danger of falling out of the top 10, its traffic rising 1.2% to 30 million. It carried just 100,000 passengers more than 11th placed Pegasus Airlines, which grew by 7.7% in 2018.

Lufthansa Group retains the title of Europe’s biggest airline group, with a 10% increase to 142 million passengers.

Ryanair remains in second place among the airline groups – but it is also the biggest individual airline brand in Europe, growing by 8% during the year to 139 million passengers.

In CAPA’s top 20, enters the list at number 19, pushing Air Europa into 20th and knocking Flybe out of the top 20 altogether.

UK low-cost carrier boosted its passenger stats by as much as 32.7% in 2018, to 12.2 million, taking the title of fastest growing airline group in the top 20.

IAG stays in third, growing by 7.7% to reach 112.9 million passengers, while Air France-KLM is the fourth and last group with more than 100 million passengers, up 2.8% to 101 million. It was reported two weeks ago that Europe’s five biggest airline groups now possess more than 50% market share.

After that, the next four groups are easyJet (92 million passengers, up 13%), Turkish Airlines (75 million, up 9.5%), Aeroflot Group (56 million, up 11%) and Norwegian (37 million, up 12.7%), all of which hold on to their 2017 positions.

Finnair stays in 18th, with 13 million passengers, but its growth of 11.6% takes it within a million of Aegean.

Leading the pack
Flybe now leads what CAPA calls “a pack of groups outside the top 20”, in which Central and Eastern Europe features strongly and Poland’s LOT is the fastest growing.

Meanwhile, LCCs account for six of Europe’s top 20 airline groups – one more than in 2017 because of’s rise – and leisure groups account for a further two.

The tour operator TUI Group does not publish TUI Airways’ passenger numbers but CAPA estimates these at around 23 million in 2018, putting it 12th. Thomas Cook Group carried 20 million, placing it 14th.

Alitalia stands between the two tour operators, despite it being in administration the whole year, even raising its passenger numbers by 0.9% to more than 21 million.

Russia’s S7 Airlines Group moves up to 15th with 16 million passengers, a rise of 12%, placing it just ahead of TAP Air Portugal. Aegean Airlines Group is 17th with around 14 million.

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