The 22 members of the Association of European Airlines (AEA) will offer 3.8% more flights and 5.5% more seats in the upcoming summer season compared to the same period in 2015, launching 254 new routes.

Over the summer 2016 season AEA members—primarily scheduled carriers—will offer some 273 million seats. The number of flights will increase to 1.76 million.

Long-haul routes will see the greatest growth, with a 6.7% increase in flights over 55 new intercontinental connections between Europe and overseas destinations. The AEA says that capacity increases will be particularly strong to destinations in Central America (+31.1%) and the Caribbean region (+14%). The US and China will also experience double-digit growth in capacity additions in summer 2016. However, two major markets experiencing economic problems, Brazil and Japan, will see no growth.

Within Europe, AEA members will launch 200 new routes. These new routes will see 5.1% more seats on sale on intra-European routes, spread over 3.4% more flights.

Compared to summer 2015, the average number of seats per aircraft now stands at 155 (+3 seats), reflecting the decision taken by many airlines to enlarge seat capacity per aircraft or flight.

Many of the new European routes being launched this summer will be to non-hub destinations or even between regional airports, notes the AEA. The trend to offer more seasonal routes to holiday destinations also continues in summer 2016, with Greece, Italy, Spain and Scotland featuring prominently among new routes being served.

“Thanks to the growth plans of AEA members this summer, European consumers will enjoy an enlarged offer in terms of destinations and more seat capacity on existing routes,” AEA CEO Athar Husain Khan said.

While this will improve competition, benefits to passengers would be even more improved if the conditions under which European airlines operated improved, said Khan.

“This industry can do much better for Europe provided that its competitiveness improves. Taxes imposed on airlines in Europe are too high, growth is slowed by ground infrastructure and ATC restrictions, and regulation is often very burdensome.”



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