Love may be in the air, but what are Europe’s busiest routes this Valentine’s Day

14 February, 2018

Every February 14, across many places around the world, flowers and other gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St Valentine, a patron saint whom is still shrouded in mystery. Now a day for romantics, after poet Chaucer link it to love in the Middle Ages, it seemingly has its roots in a number of different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, whom were martyred on this February date.

It may not sound quite so romantic now, and it has certainly turned into a commercial calendar date, but it remains a day that brings people together. At The Blue Swan Daily we thought it would be interesting to see which airports across Europe share the strongest bonds on this one day of the year, using schedule data from intelligence provider OAG.

Our analysis shows that the busiest route by capacity is the domestic Spanish link between Barcelona (BCN) and Madrid (MAD) with over 12,000 two-way seats available, ahead of Oslo (OSL) - Trondheim (TRD) and Ankara (ESB) - Istanbul (IST). The listing is dominated by domestic routes with Oslo (OSL) – Stockholm (ARN) the largest international market, ranked 12th on the list.

TABLE - Domestic markets dominate the daily capacity offering with the Spanish link between Barcelona and Madrid Europe's biggest in terms of seats on February 14Source: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG (data: 14-Feb-2018)

Looking more closely at flight frequencies on 14-Feb-2018 and it is a similar top five. The major change is that the four top markets have slipped down a position with the regular scheduled helicopter flights linking Nice and Monaco being the most frequent operation on the day with almost three times as many flights. The Italian domestic market between Milan and Rome and the intra-Canary Island link between Tenerife and Gran Canaria also make it into the top ten and seemingly markets that are being flown using smaller equipment.

TABLE - The regular helicopter operations linking the Principality of Monaco to Nice are the most frequent scheduled operation in Europe on February 14Source: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG (data: 14-Feb-2018)

Looking more generically at city to city links and the landscape changes quite significantly. Istanbul - Izmir and London - Dublin are the number one and two and the largest domestic and international city pair, respectively, with over 18,000 two-way seats on February 14. Istanbul and London are listed among the top ten city pairs on three separate occasions with London - Amsterdam the only other international market to make it into the ranking.

TABLE - Istanbul and London dominate among the largest city pairs on February 14 with Istanbul - Izmir and London - Dublin the largest domestic and international markets Source: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG (data: 14-Feb-2018)

But, what are the fastest growing major city markets in Europe this Valentine's Day. Compared with last year, it is Gran Canaria that has seen the largest growth in intra-European capacity with departure seats more than doubling (+111.8%) from 11,135 on 14-Feb-2017 to 23,589 on 14-Feb-2018. Among the top 50 city markets by departure seats strong year over year growth has also been recorded by Ankara (+39.4%), Antalya (+35.1%), Budapest (+31.1%), Izmir (+27.5%), Stuttgart (+27.0%), Warsaw (+26.2%) and Venice (+20.1%). London remains the largest city market, while Istanbul (now ranked number two after overtaking Paris), Moscow, Frankfurt and Amsterdam are all closing in with double digit year over year growth.

CHART - London remains the largest city market in Europe by a long way, but many of its rivals continue to grow at a much faster rate in terms of departure seat capacitySource: The Blue Swan Daily and OAG (data: 14-Feb-2018)