Vienna airport: a battleground for Europe’s low-cost

Until last August, Vienna airport had not been used to attention. But then the airport’s second-largest customer collapsed — and now it has become a battleground for Europe’s low-cost carriers. It is the demise of the Air Berlin Group, under €2 billion of losses, that has been largely responsible for the airport’s new-found popularity as a clutch of carriers attempt to fill the void left by its collapse. Since last summer, Hungary’s Wizz Air and Level, IAG’s low-cost long-haul airline, have launched out of Vienna, while Lufthansa Group’s Eurowings and IAG’s Vueling have increased their flights from the Austrian capital. After a tortuous process, Ryanair took over Niki, which was part of the Air Berlin Group based in Vienna. Lufthansa then swallowed up the rest of Air Berlin. With easyJet establishing its European operations in Vienna in the wake of the Brexit vote, all of Europe’s major low-cost airlines are now operating out of Austria. But it is not just the fall of Air Berlin that has prompted the rush to Vienna. A new incentive from the airport for low-cost carriers, an appealing regulatory environment and Vienna’s booming tourist industry have added to its appeal.


Josh Spero