European Airline Update: Some carriers grounded, others launch new routes
The high season for airline bankruptcies in Europe tends to be the fall, but 2012 is sending spring shivers through the industry with a number of carriers having stopped operations in recent weeks.
When German regional carrier Cirrus Airlines filed for insolvency earlier this year OLT Express looked set to take over Cirrus. But that plan fell through earlier this month, thus consigning Cirrus to the register of defunct carriers. On the same day as the OLT-Cirrus deal fell through, Danish carrier Cimber Sterling cancelled all flights and ceased trading.
And last week another Scandinavian carrier, Skyways, went into liquidation. Curiously, Skyways had only just launched a new Stockholm to Billund route that had until earlier this month been operated by Cimber Sterling. Travelers on that sector have thus had to endure two airline failures within a month. Other 2012 European airline demises include the Hungarian flag carrier Malev.
It is not merely airlines that are feeling the pinch. Airports too are beset by worries. The company that manages Forli Airport in Italy stopped trading in early May. The airport is being bailed out in the short term by the Italian civil aviation agency.
Serious questions have also arisen this month over the future viability of Banja Luka airport in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Aviation media suggest that the airport’s operating license may not be renewed, though the Banja Luka airport website coyly suggests that it is business as normal.
And even big airports are not immune from difficulties, EuroCheapo has already reported on the delayed opening of Berlin’s new airport, now not due to receive its first flights till March 2013.
New transatlantic flights
Yet, despite the cautious start to the new peak season, there are a number of interesting developments. Ever dependable Icelandair has this month entered the Denver market, creating many journey opportunities for residents of Mile-High City heading for Europe. The carrier now flies four times weekly from Denver to Keflavík with onward connections to more than two dozen cities across Europe.
Berlin and Los Angeles are twin cities, but never before has there been a non-stop flight linking the two cities. That changed earlier this month when German carrier airberlin launched a new link from its Berlin base to the City of Angels. The service will operate thrice weekly.
New regional routes within Europe
In other aviation news, British Airways last month finalized its takeover of rival BMI. This signals the effective demise of BMI’s low-cost offshoot BMI Baby. Other carriers have been quick to move in and snap up ex-BMI-Baby routes.
The Slovakian carrier Danube Wings is certainly spreading its wings with a new French hub at Dole in the Jura region. Among the new routes from Dole is a service to Cambridge in England. The service launches next month.
In Poland, OLT Express is on the up, rapidly expanding its network of regional services. Europe’s third largest budget carrier, Norwegian Air Shuttle, becomes ever less Norwegian launching new inner-EU routes that are far from its Oslo base. Latest on the list is Bratislava to Copenhagen.