Budget Flights: Small is beautiful with Intersky & Baboo

A Baboo plane. Photo by loops.
A Baboo plane. Photo by loops.

It’s an article of faith among observers of European budget airlines that once the recession has lifted, the inevitable mergers have been negotiated, and the resultant dust has cleared, there will be just a few low-fare airlines remaining. Those airlines that have muscled their way into a dominant position in particular markets will survive; the others will collapse or be subsumed. In this scenario, Ryanair, easyJet, Air Berlin, Wizzair, and Norwegian will emerge victorious from the rubble.

Time will tell if these predictions will manifest quite so seamlessly.  If the analysts are right and this general process is indeed happening, it is doing so in fits and starts. For every successful merger—say, last year’s fusion of Clickair and Vueling—there have been several merger talks that have not panned out. And while a few airlines (SkyEurope, most notably) have died spectacular deaths, there has been far less upheaval throughout this recession than one might reasonably have expected.

It’s not just the biggest airlines, I’d wager, that will survive. A number of smaller European low-cost airlines flying to underserved destinations will also probably be around for a while. Their future success will be indebted to customer loyalty, on the one hand, and lack of competition on their routes on the other.

Small airlines in action

The Austrian low-cost carrier Intersky, which began flying in 2002, provides one example. Its base airport is Friedrichshafen, over the border in Germany from the airline’s headquarters in Bregenz. With just four Dash-8 planes, Intersky is an indisputably small airline. It flies from Friedrichshafen to airports across Austria and Germany. During the warmer months it adds destinations in Croatia, France, and Italy. Trackers of unusual routes will be pleased by Intersky’s summertime flights to Elba from both Friedrichshafen and Zurich. Intersky is the dominant player at Friedrichshafen. If it could just get its Website in order we’d be fully on board.

Geneva-based Baboo is another small, regional player that has a serious fan base. The airline commenced flying in 2003. Its fleet consists of five aircraft, and its route map focuses on airports in Italy and France. Budget airline purists may not regard Baboo to be a low-cost carrier at all, though its three-part fare structure does allow some decent fares to creep in. Baboo’s following in large part can be attributed to its business-class level perks, including a snack service that gets high marks. Interesting destinations include St. Tropez, Oxford, Bucharest, and Lugano.

The key for Intersky is its dominant position at Friedrichshafen, while Baboo’s signature strength is the branded experience that it provides passengers. Both airlines are worth observing in the medium-term.

More info: Read more about these airlines in EuroCheapo’s budget flights section: Intersky, Baboo, Ryanair, easyJet, Air Berlin, Wizzair, and Norwegian.

About the author: Alex Robertson Textor is a freelance travel writer and editor based in Brooklyn. He has written for Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel, National Geographic Traveler, and Re:Porter, among other publications. He also edits koucou, a guide to independent budget-friendly travel in the Caribbean.

About the author

Alex Robertson Textor
About the author: Bitten by the travel bug at 11, Alex Robertson Textor has fond childhood memories of ultracheap Spanish hotels (the kind with Styrofoam shelving) and supermarket lunches scarfed on park benches. Formerly an academic, Alex has spent the last several years redirecting his professional life into full-time travel journalism and editing. He has published articles in the New York Times, Guardian Unlimited, Condé Nast Traveler, Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian, among other publications.
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Cheapo Comments

2 Responses to “Budget Flights: Small is beautiful with Intersky & Baboo”
  • Laku Noc says:

    Baboo? Faboo!

  • We think Alex raises a very important issue in this article. There is a galaxy of second and third tier carriers in Europe which are too often overlooked by visitors from North America (and other continents) who want to fly around the continent. And it is interesting that the top ten carriers have a very much smaller collective share of the European air travel market than the top ten carriers in North America have in their home markets.

    Just for the record those top ten air carriers, assessed by seat capacity offered at European airports this month, are (in alphabetical order, not in order of size) are:

    airberlin, Air France, British Airways, easyjet, KLM, Lufthansa, Iberia, Ryanair, SAS, Turkish Airlines.

    It is interesting to note how many legacy carriers are still there in the list, and just below the top ten come another raft of legacy carriers, among them (again in alphabetical order) Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, Alitalia, Austrian, Finnair, Swiss and TAP – all in the second ‘ten’ as it were. These legacy carriers often offer deals that compete well with those on offer from so called budget airlines.

    En passant, it is perhaps worth noting how small a share of the European market non-European carriers have. No non-European carrier features in our list of the top three dozen airlines offering seats at European airports this month (and that includes seats to anywhere in the world, not just to inner-European destinations).

    Back to Alex’ main point. Second and third tier carriers like Baboo and InterSky (which are not even in Europe’s top 100 airlines) often offer cost effective options from small airports. Bear in mind that many of Europe’s smaller airlines are simply absent from most North American agents websites or meta-search engines.

    Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries
    editors
    hidden europe
    Berlin

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